sneezing, tearing, and runny nose after colonoscopy


Sneezing, running nose and tearing after colonoscopy

A study published in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology in 2011 confirmed that patients getting supplemental oxygen via nasal cannula during colonoscopy can develop symptoms of rhinitis. Symptoms of rhinitis include sneezing, rhinorrhea (runny nose), itchy nose, tearing.

These symptoms only occur in about 3% of patients.

The symptoms do not appear to be the related to seasonal allergies.

Symptoms can last a few days at times.

Treatment of these symptoms depends on the severity. For many, the symptoms will go away on their own. For some, treatment is necessary. Try humidifiers or saline nasal sprays first. Decongestants may help. Decongestants may be in tablet form like Sudafed or nasal spray like Afrin. Some people may benefit from an antihistamine nasal spray like Astelin or a steroid nasal spray like Flonase.

Over the counter antihistamines like Benadryl and Zyrtec do not seem to work well for this condition.

Rhinitis after colonoscopy is not life threatening and will eventually go away.

Can I prevent sneezing, running nose and tearing after colonoscopy?

  • If possible, limit oxygen supplemental rate to 2 to 4 liters per minute. This problem appears to occur more with higher rates of flow.
  • Use a face mask instead of nasal cannula if possible.
  • If you have had this problem before, be sure to inform your physician before your procedure.

Suggested Reading 

How to understand your colonoscopy result

Why people hate colonoscopy and what to do about it 

How to spot a complication after colonoscopy