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Why does eating spicy food give you a runny nose?


Whenever I eat tacos I have to have a handkerchief or kleenex nearby because my nose starts running like a faucet. Why, exactly, does this happen?

3480 day(s) ago

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bjones
Getting a runny nose is an almost universal phenomenon for people when they are eating spicy foods. Everyone I know experiences this, although many try to cover it up in order to show how tough they are. It seems to go without saying, but the runny nose is caused by the same chemical that makes food spicy. Spiciness comes from peppers in the food. Most peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin. The hotter a pepper is, the more capsaicin it has. Capsaicin has the unique ability to excite nerve cells in all parts of the human body. It is a volatile substance and can even cause burns on the hands if hot peppers are being handled for any length of time. People who pickle peppers at home normally must wear rubber gloves while they are handling the peppers.

As we eat, some capsaicin particles are released into the air. Some enters our nose directly from the plate or fork. Most capsaicin gets to our nose, however, from our mouth and up the back of our throat as we breathe. In the same fashion that capsaicin excites the nerves of our taste buds, they excite the nerves of our sinuses. When we get a runny nose from spicy foods, it is called gustatory rhinitis. The lining of the nose becomes inflamed and the body responds to the chemical by excreting watery mucus to try to get the chemical out.

The actions of gustatory rhinitis are seen as positive by many practitioners of home medicine. Eating spicy foods can clear the sinuses when they are stuffed up from a cold. Many people prefer this natural decongestant over pharmaceutical drugs. Some medical professionals warn that although capsaicin can relieve congestion in the moment, inflammation of nasal cavities may cause further congestion in the long run.




Posted 3480 day ago

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Glenn Wilkinson
703 day(s) ago
Great explanation here. But why do I get runny nose even if I eat any hot food though they are not even spicy. I guess that does not have that chemical that you specified.

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