Jan 20, 2022
9 Tips for How To Stop a Runny Nose
5 minute read
Sometimes, it feels like there’s not even Kleenex in the world to stop the snot from shooting out your ‘schnozz.’ This is especially true during allergy season, and it can feel like you just want to stick some plugs into your nostrils and call it a day.
A runny nose is one of the more frustrating and embarrassing symptoms associated with allergies, as well as the cold and flu. When your body perceives an allergy threat, it produces extra mucus as a means of trying to force the foreign allergen out. This leads to a discharge of mucus from the nostrils as a result.
While we send some gratitude to our bodies for trying their best to keep us safe, we also wish it’d just chill sometimes. But don’t worry -- we’ve got some tips and tricks to stop even the most athletic noses from running all day long.
1. Drink Up
Often, a runny nose is accompanied by nasal congestion, another allergy symptom that we can definitely do without. If that’s the case, drinking extra fluids is even more important. When you drink plenty of fluids, it will help keep the postnasal drip at bay. Grab a tissue just in case, though.
Drinking lots of water or other liquids is helpful because it ensures that the mucus in your sinuses thins out and is easier to expel. So while it might seem like it’s making your nose run a little bit more, it’s actually because it’s expelling all of the nasty stuff, so there’s nothing left.
Pro tip: hot liquids work even better than cold ones for dislodging mucus. This is because their heat and steam can enter your airways and decongest them naturally. Load up on some herbal teas, especially those that are known to be antihistamines such as chamomile, peppermint, or ginger. These can also alleviate co-occurring symptoms like a sore throat.
Speaking of antihistamines, taking over-the-counter medications to attack your allergy symptoms is one of the most effective ways to get relief fast. Histamines are chemicals found in the body that cause the symptoms of allergies, such as sinus congestion or runny nose. Antihistamines are medications that inhibit the production of these chemicals.
Many antihistamines are taken orally in pill or capsule form. These include common medications such as loratadine or cetirizine. However, if you’re really trying to pinpoint that runny nose, you may want to go with antihistamine nasal sprays.
These work by blocking the histamine that is released by your body in your nose. Since histamine is the chemical responsible for causing the runny nose and congestion your symptoms will get better very quickly.
A combination of both oral antihistamines and nasal sprays may work best to address some of the most aggravating symptoms. You can also get eye drop antihistamines to alleviate itchy and watery eyes if you’re feeling those as well.
3. Get Steamy
Inhaling hot steam is a helpful way to reduce runny nose and congestion symptoms. There are a few different ways you can do this.
One method is by heating up clean water in a pot on the stove, just enough to create steam. With that in mind, don’t let it boil. Then, place your face above the steam for about 20 to 30 minutes, taking breaks when your face gets too hot. Finally, blow your nose to get out all of the loosened mucus.
Standing over the stove for a half-hour might not sound like the best method in the world, but a 2015 study found inhaling hot steam is a really great way to reduce symptoms of the cold and flu. But if you’re pressed for time, you can achieve similar results by taking a nice hot shower instead.
4. Use a Neti Pot
Nasal irrigation sounds intimidating, but it’s one of the most tried and true methods for alleviating nasal congestion and runny nose. This can be done by using a neti pot, which are small containers that sort of look like a teapot. To use a neti pot, you’ll add a warm saltwater solution to the device. Then, you’ll tilt your head and pour the solution through one nostril. It will naturally come right out the other, hopefully taking a bunch of mucus out with it.
Neti pots can be bought from your local drugstore, and when used properly, they’re a beneficial tool for alleviating runny and post-nasal drip. However, make sure you read the directions and use them the right way. In rare circumstances, they can make your symptoms worse or even lead to a sinus infection.
5. Spice Things Up
After taking a huge bite of a spicy Szechuan chicken bowl, you might feel like you’ve got allergies because of how severely your nose starts to run. With that in mind, eating spicy foods might be able to clear out your sinuses and bring you some relief.
Most spicy foods, such as cayenne or chili peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin. This is what makes those foods have that spicy sensation. Studies have found that this chemical is effective for reducing the nasal symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
So it might be time to ease your way into eating more spicy foods. Meals containing spicy peppers, wasabi, horseradish, or ginger are some tasty and effective ways to feel some relief.
6. Use a Humidifier
Dry air can make your sinuses feel dry, which can also cause your mucus to become thicker and flow out of your nose more slowly. Adding moisture into the air with a humidifier is a great way to loosen up mucus and make it easier to blow out.
If you are allergic to dust mites however, make sure to keep the humidity to no more than 50% because dust mites also live off of the humidity in the environment.
7. Catch Some Sleep
If sleep is a remedy for a runny nose, count us in! When you sleep, your body produces new immune system cells, which can help your body to attack cold and flu particles more quickly. This means that getting an adequate night’s sleep may have you waking up feeling good as new in the morning.
If you’re struggling to sleep because of your congestion or runny nose, try propping yourself up with a few pillows to reduce the stuffiness in your nose and make it more comfortable for you.
8. Apply a Warm Compress
A stuffy or runny nose is sometimes caused by irritation in the nasal cavity. If you can reduce some of that inflammation, you’ll be able to relieve yourself from the menace of a runny nose.
Run a washcloth under some warm water, and then squeeze it out, so it’s just a little bit damp. Then, place it over your nose and forehead. This can help to reduce irritation while also loosening up the mucus to make it easier to expel. Repeat this as often as you need. If nothing else, this is a relaxing technique that can at least reduce some of the stress you might be feeling at the same time.
9. Avoid Allergy Triggers
If your runny nose results from an allergic reaction, it’s probably a good idea to try to remove yourself from situations that trigger it. This means trying to limit outdoor exposure during allergy season, keeping your windows closed, and wearing a facial covering to prevent pollen particles from entering your airways.
If indoor allergens like dust mites or mold seem to be the culprit, you’ll want to wash your linens at least once every two weeks, being sure to dry them with a drying machine rather than hanging them outside. Additionally, place dehumidifiers in basements or bathrooms where excessive moisture build-up can foster mold growth.
Know Your Nose
A runny nose is a tough symptom to have to deal with, especially when allergy season is upon us. With that said, there are some ways to expel that mucus, so you don’t need to deal with it anymore.
Antihistamine medications and nasal sprays with tend to be most effective, and they work the fastest. However, drinking plenty of fluids, inhaling hot steam, getting enough rest, avoiding your allergy triggers, and applying a warm compress to your nose are all effective home remedies for bringing yourself some relief.
If your nose is a track and field star and won’t settle for anything less, your online allergist is in. Cleared gives you personalized allergy treatment right from home, with free ongoing care from our US-licensed allergists and nurses. Get allergy relief today.
Sources: Effectiveness and safety of combination treatment of herbal medicines and oral antihistamines for atopic dermatitis: a retrospective chart review | NIH Efficacy of Steam Inhalation with Inhalant Capsules in Patients with Common Cold in a Rural Set Up | ResearchGate Capsaicin for non-allergic rhinitis | Cochrane
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