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How To Stop A Runny Nose

The Complete Guide To Stopping A Runny Nose

Sylvia Zakusilov, NP Profile Photo

Written by Sylvia Zakusilov, NP on August 16, 2021

Medically reviewed by Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology

When you or your kid comes down with a runny nose, it can be a huge nuisance. The constant sniffling and nose-blowing can be frustrating, and getting to the bottom of it can be a difficult thing to do. There are many different things that can cause a runny nose, many of which share symptoms, thus making it nearly impossible to determine the cause without the help of a doctor.

Though mucus can be highly annoying when your body produces too much of it, it is actually an essential part of your defense against infections and illnesses. Mucus works to trap bacteria and viruses and flush them out of your body, and it also helps keep your tissues moisturized and protected.

Your body produces more mucus when you are sick because this is your body’s attempt at trapping the antigens that have entered your system. That said, when too much mucus is produced for too long, it can lead to unpleasant symptoms like a prolonged runny nose, chronic congestion, and postnasal drip.

Allergies, colds, and dry air are a couple of common culprits for a runny nose… but how do you know if it is something more serious, and how do you get rid of the runny nose altogether? The first step towards getting rid of a runny nose is to determine its cause because different causes will require different methods of treatment.

Most Common Causes of a Runny Nose

A runny nose can be caused by a variety of things from allergies to the flu, and it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause.

The most common causes of a runny nose include:

  • Allergies or hay fever
  • Nonallergic rhinitis, like irritation caused by smoke, car exhaust, fragrances, and household chemicals
  • A common cold
  • The flu
  • Dry air
  • Cold weather
  • Sinus infections
  • Deviated septum
  • Nasal polyps

These things range in severity, and if you are unable to figure out what is causing your runny nose, it is always best to consult a doctor and get a professional opinion. Many of the causes of a runny nose are some form of illness and infection, and because some of these share symptoms, it can be very hard to tell the difference. Mistaking the flu for allergies, for example, can lead to prolonged discomfort from symptoms.

When kids have a runny nose it can be especially hard to find out what is causing it because children are particularly prone to catching colds and other illnesses since much of their time is spent around other kids.

When in doubt, consult your pediatrician! It is always best to play it safe, especially when it comes to your child’s health and wellness. There is no shame in wanting a professional opinion, and a doctor will be able to offer guidance when it comes to easing symptoms.

Treating a Runny Nose at Home

When a runny nose is nothing too serious and the symptoms are manageable, you may be able to treat it at home. A runny nose caused by a cold should resolve within a week or so because colds generally go away on their own in 7-10 days. That said, there are a few things you can do to soothe the symptoms in the meantime.

Common home remedies for a runny nose include:

  • Getting plenty of rest if your symptoms are being caused by a cold or other illness.
  • Staying hydrated, as drinking plenty of fluids can help thin and loosen mucus as well as prevent future mucus from becoming too thick.
  • Blowing your nose in order to help get rid of the mucus in your nose.
  • Using a vaporizer or cool-mist humidifier to add moisture back into the air, since dry air can aggravate symptoms and can cause a runny nose by itself.
  • Avoiding allergens and irritants if you know your symptoms are being caused by seasonal allergies or nonallergic rhinitis. Staying inside when the pollen count is high, for example, can help reduce the discomfort you experience. Similarly, keeping windows closed during allergy season can help prevent symptoms.

Over-the-counter medicine can also be largely helpful if these home remedies just don’t cut it. Cold and cough medicines come in handy if you know your symptoms are being caused by a cold or other infection, but your symptoms are not too severe.

Genexa’s Kids’ Cold Crush works to address the most common symptoms of a cold, including congestion, runny nose, sore throat, cough, and mucus. This product is great for kids between the ages of 3 and 11, making it a perfect choice for your under-the-weather kiddo.

Genexa is the first clean medicine brand and they are making moves to revolutionize the world of medicine. Clean medicine means that their products are made with the active ingredients you need, but without the artificial inactive ingredients you don’t need or want to give to your kids.

Genexa makes real, clean medicine you can trust, and they were founded by two dads who know the struggle of wanting the best for your kids.

Before giving any new OTC medicine to your child for the first time, or before trying a new OTC medicine for yourself, a good rule of thumb is to consult a doctor. Your doctor can provide proper guidance in terms of doses and time between doses, as well as whether or not a medicine is safe for use alongside other forms of medication.

You should always avoid combining medications unless a doctor instructs you to do so. That said, you can certainly combine medicine-free home remedies with doctor-recommended medicines in order to find some extra relief. Using an OTC cold medicine alongside a humidifier, for example, is a perfectly safe way to amplify the amount of relief you or your child are getting!

If your kid’s symptoms do not respond to OTC medicine or do not improve with home remedies, this is a sign that it is time to talk to your pediatrician to get to the bottom of the problem.

When To Call Your Doctor

In some circumstances, symptoms may present themselves that indicate that your child needs to see a doctor. In most cases, your kiddo’s runny nose will be no big deal. Sometimes, though, it may be part of a more serious illness or infection that requires prescription medication like antibiotics. For example, a sinus infection can cause highly uncomfortable symptoms, and this type of infection is typically treated with antibiotics.

You should consult a pediatrician if your child:

  • Has thick nasal discharge that lasts more than 10 days
  • Has a barking cough or wheezing cough along with their runny nose
  • Has a fever that repeatedly rises over 104 degrees F
  • Has ear pain
  • Has a severe headache
  • Is having trouble sleeping because of their symptoms
  • Is having allergy symptoms that largely interfere with their ability to go about their daily activities

Most often, a runny nose will be nothing to worry about, so if your child does have a runny nose, don’t panic. Even if the above symptoms do present themselves, the cause is still usually highly treatable once your child sees a doctor.

Any time your child is having symptoms that you cannot figure out the cause for, you should get in touch with a doctor so that the proper treatment method can be planned out in order to help soothe your child’s discomfort sooner. If your doctor gives you prescription medication, like antibiotics, you or your child should start feeling better within a few days of taking the medicine!

The Bottom Line

When you or your child come down with a runny nose, it can be pretty hard to figure out the cause by yourself. There are plenty of things that can cause a runny nose, and they range in severity from allergies to the flu. When in doubt, you should consult a doctor to get to the bottom of it.

A runny nose can typically be soothed with home remedies including drinking more water and using a humidifier, or some over-the-counter cold medicine if appropriate. Any symptoms that do not seem to improve with this kind of treatment are a sign that you should talk to a doctor for proper guidance in terms of easing your symptoms!

Sometimes, a runny nose is a sign of a more serious illness or infection that requires prescription medication, and if this is the case, you should start to feel a bit better after 3-4 days of being on the medicine.

Whatever the case may be, hopefully you or your child can find some relief.