Health Q&A: a permanently running nose and the diet for someone with diverticulitis

Dr David Roche / 01 November 2012

Saga Magazine's Dr David Roche considers causes and treatment of a permanently running nose, and advises on the best kind of diet for someone with diverticulitis

A constantly running rose

Within five minutes of getting up my nose runs like the proverbial tap for about an hour, wherever I am. I could then go for the rest of the day without having to blow my nose, but eating a full meal makes my nose run as well. What could be going on here and is there a solution?

 This condition is rhinitis, literally an inflammation of the nose lining. It broadly falls into two categories, allergic and non-allergic. Most people with the allergic type become aware of the allergens that triggers their symptom and episodes may be seasonal, such as reaction to pollen or perennial, in response to house dust or pets for example. It doesn’t sound as if your problem has an allergic cause and a wide variety of triggers can be responsible. Examples would include temperature change, humidity, pollutants, stress, exercise, eating and many others. In these circumstances the nose lining, which normally responds to environmental stimuli to some degree, becomes over-sensitive and causes nasal congestion or a running nose.

Attacks are often unpredictable and it affects an older age group than the allergic type. Quite why the nose undergoes this troublesome change is poorly understood. Some patients respond to oral antihistamines and others to nasal steroid inhalations; both are worth trying to see whether they help. Unfortunately some people don’t respond to the standard treatments and their symptoms prove hard to control.

 Diverticulitis diet

Can you tell me what foods aggravate diverticulitis? I’ve passed out with it twice. I have been told not to have strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes or cucumber and to peel all fruit. Is this right and are nuts OK?

This is a thorny subject and you may well find the solution yourself by experimenting with your diet.

First, it is important to differentiate between diverticular disease and diverticulitis, related conditions but tackled in different ways. Diverticular disease is the development of small pouches (diverticulae) in the wall of the colon; these can number from a few to many thousands. It is an age-related change which is thought to be exaggerated by Western, low-fibre diets. It can be symptomless but as it increases patients frequently start to experience abdominal discomfort, bloating and irregular bowel actions.

Diverticulitis is an acute exacerbation of this condition where some of the pouches become infected and inflamed. Abdominal pain increases, usually in the lower left hand corner of the abdomen, and it is associated with fever. This can cause a partial obstruction of the bowel and is usually treated with antibiotics and a fluids-only diet until the bowel has recovered.

The colon is the last section of the intestine and by this point all foods have been well digested and absorbed so that only waste products remain. Because of this the effect of any particular food is moderated and you may find no connection between the specific foods you mention and your symptoms. The only diet that is consistently recommended is one containing lots of high fibre foods as this is thought to slow the progression of diverticular disease and reduce the episodes of diverticulitis. I would try this approach first rather than adopting any other specific diet.

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