Runny nose, sneezing and stuffy nose indicate that you have a cold – which is a very common interpretation. But what does it mean when you find it difficult to breathe or when you smell something unusual or unpleasant that no one around you can sense? Are there any other health conditions about which your nose says something? Let us understand what your nose says about your health.

Runny Nose – Cold

Runny nose goes hand in hand with cold. A cold usually begins with a sore throat, runny nose, stuffy nose and sneezing. A runny nose is, in fact, the most common symptom of a cold. The symptoms associated with common cold gradually manifest, slowly progress and then subside on their own. Drinking plenty of fluids and taking rest makes you feel better during cold.

Phantom Smell: Sinus Infection

Sometimes you may sense unusual phantom smell – it is an indication of sinus infections as they make your sense of smell insipid and taste unpleasant. Though this type of bad smell sensation goes away on its own within a few weeks, your ENT specialist may advise you to rinse your sinuses with saline water.

Phantom Smell: Brain Disorder

Sensing unusual odours can be a sign of something very serious. If you smell something, which is actually not around and which could be foul, unpleasant to your nose, then it could be due to conditions like brain tumours, head injuries, epileptic seizures or another health condition like Parkinson’s disease. This type of sensation might be through one or both the nostrils for long or just like come and go. Whatever may be your case, straight away see your doctor to rule out these conditions.

Runny Nose: Flu

A runny nose is also the most common symptom associated with flu. Other symptoms of flu include watery eyes, body pain, sneezing, aches, chills and fever. Flu can linger on for a few days to weeks, but when the symptoms get worst, antiviral medicines can shorten the illness by around two to three days. However, in young children, men and women over 65 years age, pregnant women, the risk of complications remain high. In people with diabetes, heart diseases, asthma and immunodeficiency diseases the risk of complications is very high.

Nosebleeds: Dry Sinuses

Air dried out by heat or excessive exposure to sunlight extracts moisture from the sinuses – owing to which your sinuses dry out and crack. Dry sinuses get easily break down – and therefore – blood capillaries in them leak blood. Bacteria also tend to infect the area. Both these aspects favour nose to bleed. However, the use of humidifier helps in making the dry sinuses wet by putting the moisture back into the air.

Haemorrhagic Telangiectasia, a rare genetic disorder can also cause nosebleeds. Individuals who have this type of condition may wake up to a bloody pillow or spot blood stains on their face or hands after waking up. Blood vessels in the nose become weak and tend to bleed more often without any obvious reason. The symptoms of this type of genetic disorder manifest at a younger age. Those who are suffering from this disorder should consult an ENT specialist at the earliest because it may lead to serious health complications such as blood clot formation in the lungs and brain stroke.

Other Causes of Nosebleeds

Use of medicines such as aspirin, blood thinners, nasal sprays, nose picking, allergies and genetic disorders like haemophilia can cause nosebleeds. Though the bleeding itself is not very serious, it is important to consult a doctor. Furthermore, you should seek immediate medical care if your nose bleeds for more than 30 minutes and when you find it difficult to breathe or if you have injured your nose.

Diminished sense of smell – Nasal Mass or Nasal Polyps

These abnormal masses or growths are usually harmless as long as they are not interfering with your normal breathing and sense of smell – but once they start hindering normal flow of air, breathing and sense of smell – then, you must treat them. Consultation with an ENT specialist helps in deciding the mode of treatment.

Decreased Sense of Smell: Diabetes

The exact link between diabetes and a diminished sense of smell is not known, but high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels, nerves or the organs that make up the intricate system of the sense of smell. Increased blood glucose levels can also upset the hormonal balance of your endocrine system and thus interfere with your smell sensing ability. If you think that you may have diabetes related decreased sense of smell, then talk to your diabetologist or endocrinologist about how to manage the problem or how to prevent it from happening.