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Spicy Foods = Runny Nose?

Relieve Gustatory Rhinitis Below ↓

Does your nose run when eating spicy foods?

Mine does every time. We're among the millions of Americans that feels the effects of gustatory rhinitis every time we add a little spice to our meals.

Personally, I love spicy foods, and over the years my enjoyment of them has only gone up. Tobasco used to burn me alive and jalepenos used to set my mouth on fire! But now I scarf them down and savor the spicy tingle!

Although my tolerance for heat has increased over the years, my runny nose has never slowed. Whether I'm eating Tobasco on scrabled eggs (my favorite!) or having a burger with added jalepenos, I know I have to have a stack of napkins nearby because my nose is about to start gushing!

I've got a case of full blown Gustatory Rhinitis! It's a form of non-allergic rhinitis (or runny nose) that is caused by the foods that we eat. For most people, including myself, spicy foods are the source of the problem.

Your nose runs because the capsaicin (the active component in chili peppers) irritates your nasal passages causing the secretion of nasal fluids to wash the irritant away.

Although spicy foods are most commonly the source of the problem, they are not the only cause. There are a number of other foods that can lead to it, and they may be different for every individual. In fact, alcohol consumption can also bring on this type of nasal irritation in some people.

Finally, the symptoms of a runny nose after eating food can also be an indicator of a food allergy, but in most cases it is just a simple irritation.


Spicy foods like tobasco can cause a runny nose.

Gustatory Rhinitis (runny nose) is caused by eating foods that irritate your nasal passages. Common foods include:

  • Spicy Foods (containing capsaicin oil from chili peppers)
  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes and even tomatoes)

Most Common Cause

Chili Peppers cause rhinitis.

A survey of nearly 600 individuals visiting a dermatology clinic was taken to ask about how different foods affect them. 69% of the participants indicated that at least one food item resulted in symptoms.

Hot chili peppers accounted for the most common cause: 49% of the time. On the other hand, bread accounted for the least common culprit: 6% of the time. Overall, the study indicated that almost any food can be a potential cause of the above symptoms in both children and adults.


Just like any form of rhinitis, the symptoms most frequently include a runny nose, and post nasal drip. Other symptoms like coughing or sneezing are possible, but are less frequently observed as a result of food consumption.

The most obvious symptom is that your nose will start running within a few minutes of consuming the food that is causing the problem. This will be a lot like having allergies or hay fever. If your nose runs every time you eat, then you may be consuming a problem food at every meal!


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Although I have heard that using a Nasal Irrigator or a NetiPot to cleanse your nasal passages can help reduce the frequency and severity of Gustatory Rhinitis, these types of treatments are really not that practical for mild forms of this condition.

Another practical treatment is to identify the foods that are causing the problem and then to stop eating them. However, if you're like me, you'll never want to give up the foods that cause it because they are just so good!

My treatment over the years has mostly been to have a surplus of napkins or tissues nearby when I go for the tobasco, or cook a meal with extra spice.

However, if you want to remove the problem foods from your diet, you can with a little trial and error. Try removing certain ingredients from a meal (such as eating the same type of sandwich but without tomato this time) and seeing if the symptoms occur again.

In its mild form, gustatory rhinitis can be an annoyance, but is nothing to be concerned about. The problem usually goes away on its own shortly after you stop eating the food which is causing it.

More Allergies and Surprising Treatments

Most people that have gustatory rhinitis, also have other types of rhinitis/allergies as well.

And for me, my allergies make gustatory rhinitis seem like a day off.

Fortuantely though, during the hundreds of hours of research I did while writing this site, I began to learn some secrets to actual allergy relief.

And to my surprise, so many of the steps were extremely simple and intuitive. I had just never been told them before!

If you are interested in learning some easy steps for allergy relief, take a glance at the Hay Fever Treatment page.