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Weather IQ: Why cold air causes a runny nose

Breathing in cold air causes nasal congestion and a runny nose.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Meteorological winter is here, and temperatures are getting colder.  

As chilly air enters your nose, it stimulates the sensory nerves leading to nasal congestion and a runny nose.  

In medical terms, it is called cold-induced rhinitis or skier’s nose.  

Research shows it is common among people with asthma and allergies.   

A major function of your nose is to make the air you breathe warm and wet before it reaches the lungs. The process prevents your nose from being irritated by cold and dry air.  

🌩️ If you like weather, watch Brad Panovich and the WCNC Charlotte Weather Team on their YouTube channel, Weather IQ. 🎥

Regardless of how low the temperature drops, the relative humidity in the back of your nose is 100% with an average temperature of 78 to 86 degrees.  

As your body tries to acclimate to the change in air temperature, your nasal glands can produce excess mucus.  

So, wearing a scarf over your nose can block some of the cold air and reduce your chances of a runny nose. Seek medical treatment if your runny nose is persistent. 

Contact KJ Jacobs at kjacobs3@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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