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A runny nose, or rhinitis, is when mucus drains out of the nose due to its increased production. This symptom may have various causes and may last a short time or much longer. The colour of the nasal discharge may vary too, which may indicate what is going on in the body. 

What causes a runny nose?

If you often suffer from a runny nose, you may be surprised to read that various factors can make you sniff. For example, mucus dripping from the nose may be caused by colder outdoor temperatures, a viral infection such as common cold or flu, and even allergies.

Those who suffer from chronic sinusitis, i.e., blocked sinuses that occur for 12 weeks or more, may experience a runny nose as one of the symptoms.

You may get a runny nose any time that you eat, but it is most likely to occur when eating spicy food or food that is hot temperature-wise. Some people also get a runny nose when drinking alcohol.  Irritants in the air can cause a runny nose. Some examples are perfumes, cigarette smoke, dust, and pollution. You may notice that changes in weather, temperature, or humidity levels can also cause non-allergic rhinitis.

Some also experience a runny nose during pregnancy or menstruation since hormone fluctuations may also trigger the overproduction of mucus. If you are going through periods of increased stress, do not be surprised if your nasal passages also react by releasing more mucus than usual. 

pregnant woman

How can I treat a runny nose?

Some remedies work surprisingly fast to relieve the discomfort of a runny nose

  1. Drink plenty of fluids, focusing on hot drinks such as tea. Staying hydrated will be helpful when dealing with a runny nose or nasal congestion. It helps the mucus stay thin and makes it more comfortable to blow your nose. At the same time, the heat and steam rising from the drink help relieve congested airways. Hot drinks often ease any accompanying sore throat too.
  2. Inhale hot steam. Steam inhalations are effective in treating runny nose and congestion. Their use may even shorten recovery time when you have a common cold. Heat water enough so that steam rises from it (don’t let it boil). Then place your face above the steam for about 20 minutes, taking deep breaths through the nose with the eyes closed. It may be helpful to create a cover with a towel to get the most out of the steam. You may add a few drops of essential oils to the water, e.g., peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, and thyme oils. A hot shower will also alleviate a runny or congested nose if you need a quick fix.
  3. Nasal irrigation. Also known as nasal lavage or neti pot, this method has been used since ancient times to flush out mucus and irritants from the nasal passages. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to gain from its advantages. In this method, sterile saline water is flushed through one nostril and out the other, rinsing out the sinuses in the process.
  4. Use a warm compress. Soak a washcloth in warm to hot water. Wring the excess water out, making sure that it is not too hot to place against the skin of your face. Apply it over the nose and forehead for a few minutes. This will relieve the pressure of sinus congestion and loosen up the mucus, making it easier to expel. This process may be repeated several times a day. 
  5. Use the nasal decongestant spray Hysan Adults. Hysan Adults Nasal Spray contains the decongestant xylometazoline, which provides quick relief for stuffy noses. With Hysan spray, you will be able to breathe better within a few minutes, and it will allow you to blow your nose with less discomfort. This prevents the formation of bacterial infection due to mucus. Hysan Adults Nasal Spray should be used for not more than 7 consecutive days.
Hysan Adults

When should I seek medical attention for a runny nose?

A runny nose is a common ailment and not usually something to worry about. However, if you experience any of the following it is best to speak to your pharmacist or doctor:

  • A runny nose that has lasted for more than 10 days (and you have stayed away from things that cause you allergic symptoms)
  • A fever
  • A change in the colour of mucus to yellow or green, indicating a bacterial infection
  • Nasal discharge with blood

Sources:

Constant, Clear-Fluid Runny Nose: Causes and Treatment. (2020, November 23). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/constant-runny-nose-clear-liquid

How to Stop a Runny Nose at Home. (2017, October 26). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-stop-a-runny-nose