Last updated on October 29th, 2017
A runny nose usually makes you uncomfortable but in most cases will clear in a matter of days. A number of runny nose treatment options may however reduce the appearance of the symptoms and make you more comfortable as you recover. These are discussed below.
- Runny Nose Treatment, How to Treat a Runny Nose, What Helps
- Chronic Runny Nose Treatment
- Sneezing and runny nose treatment
- Watery eyes runny nose treatment
- How to clear a runny nose at home or remedies to dry up runny nose
- How to clear a runny nose fast
- Best treatment for runny nose
Runny Nose Treatment, How to Treat a Runny Nose, What Helps
Runny nose treatment largely depends on how severe the symptoms are and the extent to which the condition is affecting your daily life. In most cases, this revolves around relieving the symptoms as you recover from the underlying condition. Here is a breakdown of how to treat a runny nose:
Avoid contact with allergens and irritants
Of paramount importance is taking the steps to reduce exposure to common allergens and irritants commonly responsible for runny nose and associated symptoms. Among the most common allergens are dust mite, animal dander, pollen, and molds. See more blow.
Taking over the counter medications
If the symptoms are mild, you can relieve the symptoms by taking medications. These will however not cure the some common underlying conditions such as allergy and common cold. They include:
Taking over the counter histamines helps to block the action of histamines. These chemicals are released by the body when it perceives the presence of a potential threat (allergen).
They are responsible for symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes.
Diphenhydramine (sold OTC as Benadryl) is one of the first and most popular antihistamines. On the downside, however, Diphenhydramine and other first generation antihistamines are known to cause drowsiness in addition to mouth and eye dryness.
Newer antihistamines, referred to as non-sedating antihistamines, such as Loratadine (Claritin), fexofenadine (Allegra) and cetirizine (Zyrtec) have addressed these side-effects and are a better choice according to the WebMD.
2. Nasal decongestants
Nasal decongestants can also help to relieve the symptoms and is especially effective for a runny nose that is accompanied by nasal congestion. They are usually available over the counter as tablets, capsules, liquids, and nasal sprays.
Nasal decongestants should not be used for longer than 5 days as prolonged use usually worsen nasal congestion rather than relieve it. The UK National Health Services website also advises against using nasal decongestants if you are taking antidepressants referred to as monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI).
Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) is the most used oral decongestant medication. As for decongestant sprays, Oxymetazoline (Afrin) and Phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine) are the most popular.
3. Steroid Nasal sprays
This is yet another popular runny nose treatment option and are particularly useful for allergies.
Nasal steroid sprays help to reduce the inflammation of nasal tissues and although they take longer to work compared to antihistamines, their effects are usually longer lasting according to UK National Health Service.
Among the most common steroid nasal sprays are Beclomethasone (Beconase), Fluticasone propionate (Flonase) and Fluticasone furoate (Veramyst).
All these runny nose treatment are available over-the-counter. Ask at your local drugstore. Your pharmacist may also be able to give you one of the many combination medicines available nowadays.
Dymista is one good example. It is a combination of Azelastine (antihistamine) and fluticasone (steroid).
When to call a doctor
- You should seek immediate medical attention if:
- Your symptoms are so severe as to affect your quality of life
- Your symptoms have not improved 10 days down the line
- You develop high fever, especially one that lasts more than 3 days
- The color of nasal discharge (mucus) turns green. This may be assign of bacterial infection. Your doctor will determine if antibiotic are needed to treat your condition.
- You are taking any immune-suppressive medications
- You suffer from asthma or emphysema
- If the runny nose follows a head trauma. This may be a sign of brain fluid drainage which is a medical emergency
- If your nasal discharge is blood-tinged or purulent (pus-like).
Chronic Runny Nose Treatment
Chronic runny nose treatment is usually an indication of long-term presence of, or exposure to one of the common causes of runny nose.
These may include dust mites, pet dander, cigarette smoke, molds, nasal polyps, nasal tumors, and anatomical defects such as deviated septum (the thin tissue separating the right and the left nostrils).
Some of the most commonly used chronic runny nose treatment options are:
This is a medical treatment procedure whereby shots of a known allergen are given over a period of time in progressively increasing dosages, ultimately reducing sensitivity to them through production of antibodies.
Steroid nasal sprays
Steroid nasal sprays are usually effective in treatment of nasal polyps (non-cancerous growths in the nasal lining) and should be the first line of action according to Patient UK website.
When other treatments have failed to improve a case of chronic runny nose, surgery may be considered as the last option.
Antihistamines, nasal decongestants and other runny nose medicines can also help to reduce the appearance of the symptoms but the solution ultimately lies in getting rid of the underlying causative factor. You should be able to stop taking such medications after exposure to allergens has been addressed.
Sneezing and runny nose treatment
Sneezing is associated with the production of antihistamines in the body, usually as a result of a perceived attack.
Sneezing coupled with runny nose may be a sign of allergies, irritation of the nasal lining, dry air, or an infection (such as common cold, common cold or sinusitis).
Your best bet in as far as sneezing and runny nose treatment is concerned would be antihistamine medications such as cetirizine or loratadine. It would also be a good idea to get rid of any potential allergen or irritant in your house. If you suspect dry air (as is common during winter), it may help to run a humidifier.
Watery eyes runny nose treatment
Runny nose that is coupled with watery eyes is a typical sign of allergies. You may as well experience itchy nose, red eyes, itchy eyes, or sore throat. Common cold may as well be to blame for watery eyes and runny nose.
Taking antihistamines is usually an effective watery eyes, runny nose treatment option. Should this problems however persist for more than 10 days, however, you should talk to your doctor.
It is also a good idea to seek medical attention of you develop high fever, more so if it lasts more than 3 days. This is also true of green, purulent, or blood-tinged mucus, especially if it smells offensively.
How to clear a runny nose at home or remedies to dry up runny nose
As for those looking to learn how to clear a runny nose at home, there are numerous home remedies that you can use to dry up runny nose without taking over-the-counter and prescription medicines. These include:
Nasal irrigation (or nasal douching) with salty water
Regularly cleaning your nasal airways with a dilute salt solution is an excellent at-home runny nose treatment remedy that works by flushing irritants out of your nose and thinning the mucus in your nose, hence making it easier for you to blow it out.
- Prepare a salt solution by dissolving ½ teaspoon of table salt with a couple cups of warm water
- Pour the solution into a neti pot or empty saline nasal spray bottle, or suck it into a dropper.
- Lean on a sink with your head tilted to one side and then put a few drops of the solution into one nostril. Sniff gently to draw the solution into the back of your nose.
- Blow your nose to flush out the excess mucus and solution.
- Repeat the same process with the other nostril.
- Do this a number of time every day until your condition gets better.
Steam also does wonders to a runny nose. It helps to loosen the mucus in your nose making it easier to blow it out.
One approach is to drape yourself with a towel, lean over a basin full of hot, steaming water and then inhale as much steam as possible over a period of 10 minutes. Repeat 3to 4 times each day until your condition has improved.
Another approach is to take a hot shower or bath for 10 minutes and inhale the steam for about 10 minutes.
You may also want to add a few drops of eucalyptus oil into the steaming water has also been shown to increase its effectiveness.
Drink plenty of fluids
Drink plenty of fluids including hot broth, water, soup, and tea. You should however avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeinated drinks as these dehydrate your body, which may then worsen the condition.
Run a hot steam vaporizer (humidifier)
Dry air is often to blame for, and can worsen, a runny nose. Running a hot steam vaporizer in the bedroom at night helps to increase humidity levels which then soothes irritated nasal passages and thins mucus.
It is however important to allow air to flow into the house during the day to avoid an outcrop of molds which is often counterproductive.
Avoid exposure to allergens and irritants
Certain foods e.g. dairy products, soy, shellfish, etc.), dust mites, animal dander, molds, pollen, and latex are common allergens (substances that trigger allergic reactions).
As for irritants, chemicals, cigarette smoke, dust, and strong perfumes are the most common. The following tips will help you reduce exposure to allergens and irritants:
- Clean or vacuum your floor frequently
- Wash your beddings in hot water at least once every week to reduce dust mites.
- Wear a face mask when working out in the field if you tend to develop hay fever (allergic reactions to pollen).
- Look for pillows cases and mattress covers made of dust mite proof materials
- Avoid contact with pet dander.
- Invest in HEPA air filters to boost air quality in your house. It may as well help to change the filters in the air conditioning or heating system often.
How to clear a runny nose fast
What if you have an important upcoming event, say a date, in a couple days’ time and are wondering how to clear a runny nose fast as I saw one guy say in an online health forum I frequently visit and contribute to.
Well, your best bet would be to take some antihistamines alongside nasal decongestants or steroid nasal sprays.
You may even consider getting a combination drug or nasal preparation that combine antihistamines with either nasal decongestants or steroids (or both).
Dymista, which is a nasal spray combining azelastine (antihistamine) with fluticasone (steroid) is a good example, but your local pharmacist may as well have other recommendations.
You will also want to identify and avoid any potential triggers in your home. Some common suspects are pet allergens ad dust mite. Cigarette smoke, including that exposed to you from secondary smoking, could as well be to blame.
Best treatment for runny nose
What is the best treatment for runny nose? That is a question that is seen in the online sphere very often. The best treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause.
In the case of a bacterial infection e.g. sinus infections, your doctor will very likely prescribe an antibiotic medication. This may be administered alongside antihistamines, nasal decongestants, or steroid nasal sprays to relieve the symptoms.
Viral infections (such as such as common cold and flu) on the other hand have no treatment. They have to take their full course, but symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, and nasal discharge usually respond well to treatment with steroids, nasal decongestants, and antihistamines.
For allergies, a combination of antihistamines and nasal decongestants will work fine. These two could be administered in the form of a combination nasal spray. In addition to treatment of the symptoms, you will also want to avoid exposure to allergens.
Recommended further feading
- Runny Nose and Cough, Sore Throat or Sneezing Causes and Medicine
- Chronic Runny Nose Causes in a Child, Adults, Elderly & Treatment
- Constant Runny Nose Causes in Toddlers, Adults, Winter & How to Stop It
- Best Medicine for Runny Nose with Cold, Sneezing, Infants Including OTC
- Baby Running Nose with Sneezing, Cough, during Teething & Medicine
- How to Get Rid of a Runny Nose Fast with Cough or Sneezing
- How to Stop a Runny Nose fast, at school & without Medicine
- Home Remedies for Runny Nose with Sneezing, Cough or Watery Eyes