This Is Why You Get A Runny Nose When You Cry

Feeling your emotions is a healthy thing. Often, the only way to get through tough times in life and get over them is to fully feel your emotions. Sometimes, that necessitates crying. According to Harvard Medical School, crying is important because it actually helps to release endorphins as well as oxytocin, and that in turn works to alleviate the emotional and even sometimes physical pain.

One thing you might have noticed is how when you begin to cry, not only are your eyes tearing, but soon enough, your nose begins to run, too. It's all the more reason why you need tissues handy.

The worse part, however, may be when you have a truly intense crying session, the kind where you feel like your heart of gonna fall out. Now, not only are you suffering from whatever event brought about the tears, but the intense crying can cause your entire nasal cavity to feel swollen and stuck, as if you can't even get a breath in.

There is an anatomical reason why your nose runs when the tears begin

One of the things that happen to your body when you cry is that your whole system works in overdrive. Your heart races and you may sweat before your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and helps regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing (via Columbia University). In the process, your body starts to release the endorphins that help calm you.

When you first start to cry, tears get released from the tear ducts in your eyes. They fill the eyes with fluid until the eyes can no longer hold them and the tears drip down your face. Since tear ducts are housed in the lower eyelids, behind the scenes, they are releasing tears that find their way down to your nasal cavity. The result is a drippy, runny nose. According to Healthline, the tears that fall into your nose get mixed with what's in the nose, such as blood or mucus, and then drip down.

Why tears that end up in your nose can be a little gross

The combination of tears and nasal contents happening all at once can be a recipe for a few unpleasant things. Otolaryngologist Dr. Erich Voigt, M.D. explains to Self, "There are tears coming down the face but a lot of them are going down into the nose as well, and that's when the nose gets stuffy and we do a lot of sniffling." Then what we do makes things worse, says Dr. Voigt. "We sniffle to get the tears out of there, and it pulls them into the throat and we swallow them."

Yet crying while wearing make-up may be the worst-case scenario. You've probably noticed after a good cry that your makeup is gone. Though Visine and concealer can help (via MakeupTutorials), makeup goes into your tear ducts and down the back of the nose, often getting lodged there. "I've had patients come in that have green or blue or black particle matter in their nasal mucous and in fact, it's coming from their eye makeup," says Dr. Voight, who has seen this in patients via endoscope. If makeup gets stuck, it can also cause chronic tearing from a clogged duct.

The good (although gross) news is that most of the time, makeup particles don't get stuck and you simply end up swallowing them. Then they get broken down and digested the same way your food does.