This winter I’ve been experiencing rhinorrhea pretty much on a daily basis. In fact, I’m hit by a bout of rhinorrhea whenever I go outside for a walk on a cold day.
No surprise there — rhinorrhea is the high-falutin’ medical term for a runny nose, from the Greek word for nose. (That’s why plastic surgery on the nose is called rhinoplasty, incidentally, and it’s got nothing to do with comparing the size of the schnoz being operated on to the horn of rhinoceros.) My daily dose of rhinorrhea therefore isn’t a cause for alarm, it’s just an annoyance.
I begin my walk in the bracing cold, take some deep breaths of the crisp, clear air, and about halfway into my stroll my nose has turned into a roaring mucus machine and I’m leaking fluid like a sieve, leaving me to either sniffle it back down or remove the glove for a quick wipe-off with a tissue. But it’s just a temporary fix, because inevitably the sputum production ramps up again for however long I’m outside, making the Kleenex box my first stop after I get home.
Why do our noses run during the winter, even if we don’t have a cold? The medical websites will tell you that it’s just our noses working overtime at doing their jobs of warming and humidifying the cold, dry air we’re breathing. The nasal membranes produce more mucus and fluid in the winter to protect our delicate lung tissues from the frigid air onslaught.
So congratulations! That irksome runny nose means you’re perfectly fine and your body and its defense mechanisms are working as millennia of evolution intended. Just be sure to keep an endless supply of nasal tissue on hand for the winter, because you’re going to need it.