Having a runny nose can make you miserable, but rarely is it a serious condition. In fact, a runny nose, medically referred to as rhinorrhea, often indicates the beginning of a cold or another common condition. Regardless of the reason, it is important to know the traditional and alternative ways to treat a runny nose.
Causes of Runny Nose
A runny nose is frequently caused by the common cold, which causes inflammation of the nasal passages, congestion and a drippy nose. In fact, more than 200 different viruses can cause the common cold, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, resulting in millions of doctors visits every year.
Allergic rhinitis, also called hay fever, is another common cause of runny nose, and occurs because of an immune reaction to allergens like pollen, dust and animal dander. You may also experience a drippy nose after going out in the cold, because your nasal passages increase mucus production to prevent dryness in cold weather.
A common treatment for runny nose is antihistamines, which reduce the amount of mucus produced in the nasal passages. Traditional antihistamines are available over-the-counter, but they can cause drowsiness for several hours after administration. However, newer antihistamines are available in non-drowsy formulas. Antihistamines are also effective for allergic rhinitis, because they reduce your immune system’s reaction to common allergens.
Another traditional treatment for runny nose is decongestants, which reduce nasal inflammation and swelling. Over-the-counter decongestants are available as a nose spray or in pill-form, but your physician can prescribe stronger decongestants for severe sinus symptoms. If you have severe allergies, your doctor may also prescribe allergy injections or corticosteroid medications to reduce the inflammation causing your symptoms.
Natural Sinus Remedies
Perhaps the most popular, natural sinus treatment is a sinus rinse, which uses a solution of salt and water to cleanse your sinuses. Also called a sinus wash, this method dates back hundreds of years and remains a popular treatment today. You can purchase a sinus rinse kit at your local pharmacy, but be sure to follow the directions for maximum effectiveness. You can also use a neti pot to perform sinus rinses. Simply use the spout to pour saline solution into one nostril, while allowing the solution to drain out the other nostril. This cleanses the sinuses of allergens, germs and excess mucus.
If your runny nose is caused by allergies, avoid the allergens causing your symptoms. Some herbal supplements, including nettle, echinacea and goldenseal, have been used to treat allergic rhinitis because of their anti- inflammatory properties. However, herbal treatments may interfere with prescription medications, so speak to your doctor first. You can also use a vaporizer or humidifier to moisten the air and soothe inflamed sinuses.
Sinus drainage that has changed colors or has a foul odor may indicate a sinus infection and should be treated by a doctor because antibiotics may be necessary to treat the infection. In addition, see a doctor if your runny nose is accompanied by severe sinus pain, fever or difficulty breathing.