Does Prozac cause a runny nose? (+3 tips)

In this article, we will explore whether Prozac causes a runny nose, how Prozac causes a runny nose and what may be the factors contributing to this condition. In addition to this, the treatment and management strategies will also be discussed.

Does Prozac cause a runny nose?

Yes, Prozac can cause a runny nose as a side effect. This is because Prozac can irritate the lining of the nose and sinuses. The runny nose caused by Prozac is usually mild and goes away on its own within a few weeks. The runny nose caused by Prozac is dose-dependent (1).

However, if it does not go away or is severe then you need to consult your healthcare provider.

Prozac is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor that is known for its therapeutic effects on depression, anxiety and other mood disorders (2). It has a significant list of side effects that include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, fatigue, dry mouth etc (3). Sometimes, it may cause a runny nose as well (2).

The incidence of effects depends upon the individual sensitivity. However, it is wise to consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis of the condition and severity.

How does Prozac cause a runny nose?

The exact mechanism of how Prozac (fluoxetine) cause runny rose or rhinorrhea is not fully understood but there are compelling hypothesis.

Prozac’s primary action is to increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in the regulation of various bodily functions (4). However, serotonin is not limited to the brain. It has its effects on the peripheral tissues including nasal passages.

While serotonin in the brain is primarily associated with mood regulation, serotonin in the nasal passage is associated with the swelling and inflammation of the nasal mucosa. This causes the blood vessels to dilate and increase blood flow to this area. The increased permeability of the blood vessels allows fluid including mucus to leak into the nasal passage. This results in a runny nose (1).

What other factors contribute to a runny nose while taking Prozac?

Prozac or fluoxetine are antidepressants that show side effects but a runny nose is not a commonly reported side effect of this drug. There may be other conditions that may contribute to a runny nose while taking Prozac. It may not be the sole cause.

Starting dose

The likelihood of experiencing a runny nose as a side effect of Prozac can be influenced by the initial dose prescribed. Higher doses may be associated with an increased risk of runny nose (5).

Concurrent medication interaction

Combining Prozac with other medications can cause a dry mouth. Such medications including antihistamines and decongestants can increase the likelihood of developing a runny nose. These drug interactions can affect the balance of moisture causing a runny nose.

Underlying health conditions

Individuals with allergic rhinitis commonly known as hay fever are more prone to experiencing a runny nose while taking Prozac. Allergic rhinitis is characterized by nasal inflammation and hypersensitivity to allergens.

People with sinusitis, inflammation or infection of sinuses, may also be at a higher risk of developing a runny nose while taking Prozac. Sinusitis can exacerbate nasal symptoms and make a runny nose more pronounced.

Weather changes

Rapid changes in temperature or humidity, especially during seasonal transitions, can irritate the nasal passage and can contribute to runny nose in patients.


Some medications such as nasal decongested sprays, if overused, can lead to a phenomenon called “rebound congestion” where the nasal passages become congested and subsequently cause a runny nose when the medication wears off (6).

When to consult your healthcare provider?

If you experience runny nose or rhinorrhea while taking Prozac, you need to inform and consult your healthcare provider in the following cases.

  • If your runny nose persists for a period longer than two weeks.
  • If your runny nose is accompanied by a fever, headache or facial pain.
  • If you experience severe allergic reactions such as difficulty in breathing.
  • If the symptoms are not mild and you feel them worsening.
  • If you experience recurrent or frequent episodes of runny nose.

Your doctor may diagnose the exact cause of the rhinorrhea or the above symptoms and tailor a treatment plan well-suited to your needs. You might be suggested a change in dose or a reduced starting dose.

Some Over-the-counter medications such as saline nasal sprays or antihistamines including Loratadine can help alleviate the conditions.

Your doctor may have to prescribe an alternative treatment for depression if the symptoms of rhinorrhea do not alleviate even after modifications in the treatment plan.

How to manage/relieve a runny nose while taking Prozac?

Managing and relieving a runny nose while taking Prozac involves following practical strategies.

  • Adequate hydration thins out the mucus making it easier to clear out the the nasal passage. Staying well-hydrated can significantly reduce discomfort associated with a runny nose.
  • Using a saline nasal spray or performing a saline nasal rinse can help flush out excess mucus and allergens from the nasal passages, providing relief from a runny nose.
  • Applying a warm compress to the nose and cheeks can assist in loosening mucus and reducing inflammation. This simple measure can offer significant comfort to individuals experiencing a runny nose.
  • Using a humidifier in your bedroom at night can add moisture to the air, relieving nasal dryness and potentially reducing the severity of the runny nose.
  • In cases where a runny nose is severe or does not respond to self-care measures, a healthcare provider may prescribe nasal corticosteroid sprays such as fluticasone or mometasone. These sprays are highly effective in reducing inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages and sinuses.


In my opinion, Prozac can cause rhinorrhea or runny nose as a side effect. However, it may be an uncommon report or complaint. Consulting your healthcare provider is the best option so that the severity of the symptoms can be evaluated and addressed in time.

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Suck Won Kim & Paul R. Pentel (1989) Flu-like symptoms associated with fluoxetine overdose: A case report, Journal of Toxicology: Clinical Toxicology, 27:6, 389-393, DOI: 10.3109/15563658909000360


Sohel, A. J. (2022, July 4). Fluoxetine. StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.


Brambilla P, Cipriani A, Hotopf M, Barbui C. Side-effect profile of fluoxetine in comparison with other SSRIs, tricyclic and newer antidepressants: a meta-analysis of clinical trial data. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2005 Mar;38(2):69-77. doi: 10.1055/s-2005-837806. PMID: 15744630.


Beasley, P. J., & Trivedi, H. (2007, January 1). Depression and Physical Illness. Elsevier eBooks.


Joachim F Wernicke (2004) Safety and side effect profile of fluoxetine, Expert Opinion on Drug Safety, 3:5, 495-504, DOI: 10.1517/14740338.3.5.495


Mortuaire, G., De Gabory, L., François, M., Massé, G., Bloch, F., Brion, N., Jankowski, R., & Serrano. (2013, June 1). Rebound congestion and rhinitis medicamentosa: Nasal decongestants in clinical practice. Critical review of the literature by a medical panel. European Annals of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Diseases; Elsevier BV.

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