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A runny nose may be a symptom of a cold, allergy, or sinus infection
(sinusitis). Occasionally an object in the nose causes
the nose to run.
A runny nose from a cold is often accompanied by a low fever,
cough, and a scratchy throat. Nasal drainage usually is clear but may change to
yellow as the cold goes away. If your child seems to be getting better, the
color of the drainage is not a concern.
Drainage from a runny nose caused by allergies is usually clear.
The nose may itch so that your child uses the palm of the hand to rub the nose
in an upward motion ("allergic salute"). Sneezing and watery eyes may also be
present. In addition, your child may have dark circles under the eyes
A runny nose with thick drainage that isn't getting better after 10
days, or thick yellow drainage in a child with a fever, can be a sign of a
sinus infection (sinusitis). Sinusitis does not usually occur in children who
are younger than age 2 because their sinuses are not fully developed. A small
child with a sinus infection may also have a cough that is worse at
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& David Messenger, MD
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