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Nasal discharge

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Rhinorrhoea is the symptom described by the layperson as a runny nose. The main constituent of nasal fluid is water (96-97%) but it also contains mucin (2.5-3%) and electrolytes (1-2%).

The colour of the nasal discharge may give a clue as to its cause:

  • clear - normal or allergy
  • green - active nasal infection; discolouration is due to the enzyme verdoperoxidase released from dead leucocytes
  • yellow - indicates a raised protein content; sometimes seen in allergic disorders that are not complicated by secondary infection

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