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How to Stop a Runny Nose

Updated on September 27, 2009

At this precise moment I've got a runny nose from hell. It goes quite nicely with my chest congestion. I tend to let these things take their course, but the runny nose has now overstayed his welcome and it's time to send him packing. There are ways to speed this process along and there are ways to actually make it worse, so if you're suffering the same thing at the moment, do yourself a favor and read the following information carefully: you don't want to get rid of one annoying cold symptom and replace it with something just as obnoxious but more difficult to stem!

What IS a runny nose?

Before we talk about how to sort it, let's first look at what a runny nose actually is. Rhinitis is the inflammation of your nasal passage mucosa. Bacteria, viruses, injury or other types of irritants get up there, disturb the peace and tick the nose off. Your nose then reacts by producing histamine which then results in mucous discharging from the nasal passage in the form of your runny nose (rhinorrhea). In other words, a runny nose is your nose's reaction to something irritating it from the inside out.

Conditions that cause a runny nose:

There are loads of conditions which can lead to a runny nose. The common cold and other viruses, hay fever, dust, pollutants, other allergies and more. Treating your runny nose will first require knowing the cause.

How to stop a runny nose caused by a cold:

  • Saline flush -- Your nose is annoyed by something at the moment. Do your nose a favor and give it a nice saline flush to clear out anything that might have taken up residence in your nasal cavity. Saline nasal sprays are easily bought over the counter at your drugstore or you can make your own.

  • Humidify -- If you don't already own a humidifier this is a good investment, so I'd recommend going out and getting one as you'll be able to use it every time you get a cold or have difficulty breathing. You may even avoid a runny nose in future by keeping your nasal passages free of irritation if you use the humidifier on a regular basis.

  • OTC nasal spray -- ONLY use these when you absolutely need to and only use them for a day or two at most. They will stop your nose from running but if you use them too much it will lead to a rebound effect which will keep your nose running and running long after your other cold symptoms are gone.

How to stop a runny nose caused by allergies:

A saline flush is always useful and so is the humidifier, but if you've got serious allergies like I do, you'll want a proper antihistamine as well. This may be in the form of a spray or tablet or both (I myself take a tablet and use a spray year round due to my dust mite allergy) but they come in all shapes and sizes and you'll want to discuss your options with your allergist.

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