Runny nose is a condition where the nasal cavity is filled with a significant amount of mucus fluid. It is a common symptom of allergies or certain diseases, such as the common cold or hay fever. It can be a side effect of crying, exposure to cold temperatures, cocaine abuse or withdrawal, such as from opioids like methadone.
The terms “rhinorrhea” and “rhinitis” are often used interchangeably to refer to a runny nose. Strictly speaking, rhinorrhea refers to a thin, relatively clear nasal discharge. Rhinitis refers to inflammation of the nasal tissues from a number of causes, which usually results in a runny nose.
Runny nose can be caused by anything that irritates or inflames the nasal tissues. Infections such as the common cold and influenza allergies and various irritants may all cause a runny nose. Some people have a chronically runny nose for no apparent reason a condition called nonallergic rhinitis or vasomotor rhinitis (VMR).
Less commonly, runny nose can be caused by polyps, a foreign body, a tumor or migraine-like headaches.
Causes of runny nose include:
- Acute sinusitis
- Bright lights
- Chronic sinusitis
- Churg-Strauss syndrome
- Cluster headache
- Cold temperature
- Common cold
- Decongestant nasal spray overuse
- Deviated septum
- Drug addiction
- Dry air
- Dust mite allergy
- Food allergy
- Hay fever
- Hormonal changes
- Influenza (flu)
- Latex allergy
- Lodged object
- Milk allergy
- Mold allergy
- Nasal polyps
- Nonallergic rhinitis
- Occupational asthma
- Other infections
- Peanut allergy
- Pet allergy
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
- Shellfish allergy
- Soy allergy
- Spicy foods
- Spinal fluid leak
- Tobacco smoke
- Wegener’s granulomatosis
- Wheat allergy
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is an antihistamine used to treat the symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. Its major side effect is drowsiness or sleepiness, so it also is the active ingredient in many OTC sleeping pills. Other nonsedating antihistamines are available for symptom control, including loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra).
There are many over-the-counter medicines for a runny nose, but they often have unpleasant side effects like drowsiness. Many simple home remedies can give you instant relief and decrease the intensity of your symptoms, without any side effects.
1. Salt Water
Salt water is the best home remedy for alleviating the irritation that accompanies a runny nose. Salt water will help thin the mucus, making it easier and more comfortable to expel. It will also help clear the nasal passages of irritants.
- Mix one-half teaspoon of table salt in two cups of distilled warm water.
- Using a dropper, put a few drops of the solution into each nostril with your head tilted back.
- Inhale very gently to draw the solution further into your nasal passages. Then blow your nose to remove excess mucus and solution.
- Do this a few times at a sitting until you feel relief.
- Repeat a couple of times each day until your condition improves.
Steam is also an effective home remedy for a runny nose. It helps clear out excess mucus that causes a runny nose and sneezing.
- Hold your face over a bowl of hot water, with a towel over your head to trap the steam. Breathe in the steam for about 10 minutes, and then blow your nose. Do this three or four times a day.
- You can also add a few drops of eucalyptus oil or menthol to the hot water before breathing in the steam.
- Alternatively, you can take a hot shower or bath.
3. Mustard Oil
Mustard oil has antibiotic, antiviral and antihistamine properties that can provide instant relief from various symptoms of a runny nose.
- Heat a small amount of mustard oil until it is slightly warm. Using a dropper, put one or two drops of the oil in each nostril. This will help clear up the nasal passages. Do this two or three times a day.
- Add two to three tablespoons of mustard oil and one tablespoon of caraway seeds to a pot of boiling water. Inhale the steam. The strong aroma of mustard oil will warm up the respiratory system, thus providing instant relief from a runny nose. Do this twice daily.
Note: Mustard oil is edible, so you can use the oil for cooking too.
Turmeric works as an antidote for many health conditions, including a runny nose. The herb has strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties that make it very effective for treating a runny nose as well as a cold.
- Soak one-half teaspoon of dry, ground turmeric in a cup of linseed oil. Hold the mixture over heat until it starts smoking. Slowly inhale the smoke through one nostril and then the other. Do this twice daily.
- One-half teaspoon of turmeric powder can also be taken two times a day. You can take it with some water. This will help loosen the mucus in the body.
- Mix one teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of warm milk and drink it before going to bed. This will offer quick relief from a runny nose, cough, cold, sore throat and also asthma. You can add a pinch of black pepper as well.
Ginger has a wide range of antioxidants as well as antiviral, antitoxic, and antifungal properties that help provide quick relief from various symptoms of a runny nose.
- Chewing small prices of raw ginger sprinkled with salt several times a day alleviates a runny nose quickly.
- Cut ginger root into thin slices, put them in a cup of water and boil it for some time to make a tea. Add a little honey for taste and drink the tea three or four times a day.
- Boil one teaspoon of ginger powder in two cups of water and inhale the steam.
- Ginger can also be taken in the form of lozenges, which are available in the market, to prevent a runny nose.
Garlic has strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties that make it a wonderful treatment for a runny nose.
- Prepare garlic soup by boiling three or four cloves of chopped garlic in a cup of water for several minutes. Strain the solution, add some sugar and drink the soup twice a day.
- Chew a small piece of garlic three or four times a day to warm up your body and get relief from a runny nose.
- Garlic supplements can also be taken on a regular basis to prevent or reduce the frequency of a runny nose.
- Heat a large bowl of water. Add seven drops of eucalyptus oil and four drops each of lavender oil and peppermint oil to it. Cover your head with a towel and lean over the bowl to inhale the scented steam. Do this two or three times daily.
- You can also put a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a handkerchief and inhale it throughout the day to reduce your symptoms.
Honey has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties that help reduce the various symptoms of a runny nose.
- Put two tablespoons of honey in a cup. Add a pinch of cinnamon powder and one-half tablespoon of lemon juice to it. Take this mixture twice daily.
- Mix two teaspoons of honey in a glass of warm water. Drink this twice daily.
- Mix one tablespoon of honey and three or four drops of fresh lemon juice in a glass of warm water. Drink it while it is still warm, twice daily. This remedy can help strengthen your immune system while fighting the runny nose.
- Chew three or four basil leaves before breakfast every morning and before going to bed at night.
- Eat two to three basil leaves with a little jaggery two times a day to get rid of a runny nose as well as the common cold.
- Add eight to 10 basil leaves and five cloves to a cup of water. Boil it for 10 minutes. Add some sugar. Allow the solution to cool and then drink it. Do this twice daily.
Cayenne pepper acts as an antihistamine to clear up nasal congestion as well as help treat a runny nose. Cayenne pepper increases nasal discharge so that your body can flush out the blockage and toxins that are causing your runny nose.
It also helps increase circulation, which will warm you up. So, when suffering from runny nose, try to include more cayenne pepper while preparing your foods.
A runny nose will normally resolve in a few days after using one or more of these home remedies. However, if you develop a fever, cough or body aches, consult your doctor.