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Allergies can cause your nose to run when you're hiking.
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It can be really annoying if you're out hiking, enjoying the fresh air, and your nose starts running. Some hikers have to carry handkerchiefs or tissues with them every time they set out on a trek because their nose will run like clockwork. A running nose actually has nothing to do with whether you're hiking uphill or downhill. Hikers experience runny noses for a variety of reasons regardless of the direction of the hike.
If you always get a runny nose when you're hiking, but you never get one when you're jogging in the gym, the culprit could be allergies. In fact, about 30 percent of adults will experience some form of allergic rhinitis, according to a 2012 article published in the "Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine." If this is your situation, simply taking an allergy pill before you head out might provide some relief. If your allergies are severe, you may need to see a doctor.
If you're hiking in the cold, your nose may start to run whether you're hiking uphill or downhill. Cold weather is a frequent cause of runny noses. The chillier weather can make your nose dry, causing it to work harder to make sure air entering your lungs is warm and humid. The cold weather can dry out your mucous membranes and cause your nose to run.
Some people get a runny nose just from working out. It's called exercise-induced rhinitis, and it can be a real pain for avid health fans. This means that whenever you exercise, including while you're hiking, your nose will start to feel congested, you'll start sneezing and your nose will run. This can happen if exercise causes you to mildly hyperventilate, which in turn causes your nose to dry. When your nose dries out, it reacts by getting congested and running, according to Dr. Harold Kratz, director of California Breath Clinics.
For some people, being at a higher altitude is enough to induce a runny nose. This can be a mild form of altitude sickness, especially if you're hiking in a higher elevation. Other symptoms of mild altitude sickness include a headache, needing to rest more frequently, feeling slightly dizzy and feeling nauseous. Using saline drops may help alleviate your runny nose while you're in a higher altitude, according to a 2009 study by the ENT Department of the Armed Forces Medical College, India.