A runny nose is an annoying affliction that can appear at any time during the course of our life. It is characterized by a flow of clear or thick mucus down our nose or the back of our throat. Sometimes both of these flows can take place at the same time. In medical terms, this flow of mucus is called rhinorrhea and the associated inflammation in the nasal passage is called rhinitis. A runny nose may also be accompanied by nasal congestion.
Causes of a Runny Nose
As mentioned already, a runny nose is an extremely common affliction and it may be triggered by a wide variety of factors such as:
- Common cold and influenza.
- Non-allergic rhinitis or vasomotor rhinitis (VMR) where people suffer from runny nose for no apparent reason.
- Seasonal allergies or an allergic reaction to certain food allergens like peanuts, tree nuts, gluten etc.
- Dust or mold.
- A deviated septum, which may be congenital or due to drug (cocaine) abuse.
- A viral infection, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
- An onset of acute sinusitis.
- A foreign object being lodged in the nasal cavity.
In rare occasions, a runny nose may be one of the first symptoms for a tumor in the nasal cavity!
Home remedies for a Runny Nose
Most causes of runny nose are pretty mundane and can be easily dealt with via any of the following home remedies.
- Get Some Rest
Irrespective of the cause of a runny nose, it usually helps to conserve energy so that the natural antibodies can fight off the infection. This is highly recommended for infants and young children, since they have received they vaccines pretty recently (compared to adults) and their immune systems are extremely alert. While lying down, it is recommended to use an extra pillow or two to raise the head. This will help ease the pressure on the sinus cavities.
- Warm Towel
Take a washcloth or a towel and soak it in hot water and place it above your nose. The steady heat provided by the towel will break down the mucous and clear your sinuses. This is highly effective for people suffering from runny nose due to environmental allergies.
Steam is a natural decongestant, which can cure your runny nose really quick. Following is a how you would apply the treatment:
- Boil a liter of water and pour it in a wide bowl.
- Add two drops of eucalyptus essential oil. It contains menthol, which increases steam’s decongestant potency. If you do not have any eucalyptus essential oil, you may add a tablespoon of Vicks Vaporub instead.
- Place your head above the bowl and use a towel to trap as much of the steam as possible.
- Take deep breaths for about 10 minutes.
For best results, apply this treatment at least twice every day. This treatment is effective for curing a runny nose caused by the common cold, acute sinusitis or seasonal/food allergens.
If your runny nose is caused by a viral infection, then instead of menthol you should add three tablespoons of mustard oil and one tablespoon of caraway seed to the boiling water. These components have decongestant and anti-viral properties that can help provide you with some immediate relief!
Some may find the steam of mustard oil to be too strong for their liking. If that is the case, you may replace the mustard oil and caraway seeds with a few peeled pieces of ginger. The aroma is a lot more pleasant, but will provide similar relief.
Visiting a sauna for a steam bath can also be extremely helpful!
- Eucalyptus Essential Oil
It may not be possible for you to inhale steam at all times during the day, especially if you have to go to work. Applying a couple of drops of eucalyptus essential oil in a handkerchief and inhaling through it during the course of the day will provide you with some ad-hoc relief!
- Mustard Oil
Besides increasing the potency of steam treatment, mustard oil is an effective treatment for a runny nose by its own right. This is because of the presence of a chemical known as glucosinolades, which has the aforementioned decongestant and anti-viral properties. Be forewarned that it has a strong, spicy odor, which may irritate your nostril for a few seconds, however the relief you will fell afterwards will be well worth it! Following is how you would apply the treatment:
- Warm some mustard oil for a few seconds. It should be lukewarm to the touch. Do not overheat; otherwise you may end up causing severe burns in your nasal passage. In case of severe congestion or increased volume of mucous, you may add a teaspoon of lemon juice and a pinch of salt to make the treatment even more effective.
- Apply one drop in one of your nostrils, then press down hard on the other nostril and force yourself to take a deep breath. It may cause you to sneeze, which is ok! Now repeat this with your other nostril.
The above treatment is completely safe as well and can be applied multiple times during the course of the day!
Besides mustard oil, horseradish contains adequate quantities of glucosinolades as well! It is also rich in sulfur, which is renowned for its anti-microbial properties.There are three major ways by which you can use horseradish to treat runny nose.
- Hold it in your mouth: Take a teaspoon of horseradish and hold it in your mouth till you cannot taste it anymore. It has a strong taste and you just have to bear through it. You will literally feel your nasal passage clearing up while you do so. Swallowing the horseradish after that will help alleviate an inflammation of the throat as well!
- Drink some onion-horseradish tea: Yes, it may sound disgusting, but it is extremely effective when it comes to dealing with a runny nose. To prepare the tea, you will need the following ingredients:
- ¼ cup chopped onions.
- 1/8 cup grated horseradish.
- Water (1 cup)
Once you have gathered the ingredients simply boil them together, strain and drink! Feel free to drink this up to four times a day. Chewing on the residue can help alleviate the runny nose sooner!
- Make some horseradish syrup: To be fair, the onion-horseradish tea is not easy on the palate. However, you can also make a syrup using horseradish, which is easier on your taste buds and is equally effective. You will need the following ingredients:
- 1 regular-sized horseradish root, grated.
- 4 tablespoon of honey.
- Drinking water.
- An effective sieve, such as a piece of cheesecloth.
Following is how you can make the syrup, after you have procured the ingredients:
- Thoroughly mix the honey and the horseradish and let it soak for about 10 minutes.
- Strain the mixture and store it in a container.
- Boil the residue in a cup of water for about two minutes. Strain this mixture into a separate container.
- Once the second strained liquid has cooled down to room temperature, mix the two liquids together and store it in a tinted bottle.
Your horseradish syrup is now ready to cure your runny nose! Take 4 tablespoons of this syrup up to 3 times a day!
- Holy Basil
Holy basil, or tulsi, (as it is known is the Indian subcontinent) has natural anti-microbial properties and is extremely effective in treating runny nose caused by the common cold or by a bacterial or viral infection. There are a few different ways you can use holy basil to treat your runny nose:
- Chewing on the leaves: Simply chew on 4 holy basil leaves in the morning (on an empty stomach) and right before you go to bed. You can also take a teaspoon of honey or some small pieces of jaggery along with it, to make it slightly easier on your taste buds.
- Holy basil and clove tea: You can supplement the anti-microbial properties of the holy basil with the anti-inflammatory properties of cloves to launch a serious offensive on your runny nose! To make the tea, you will need the following ingredients:
- 10 holy basil leaves.
- 5 cloves
- Drinking water (1 cup)
- Sugar (1 teaspoon)
Once you have gathered the ingredients, make the holy basil and clove tea with the help of the following steps:
- Boil all the ingredients (minus the sugar) in a covered vessel for about ten minutes.
- Add sugar and make sure that it dissolves completely.
- Strain and drink!
The holy basil and clove tea can be consumed for up to two times every day.
Turmeric is highly revered in Ayurveda (ancient Hindu medical treatise) and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) because of its anti-oxidant, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. Besides curing a wide variety of ailments, turmeric can also get rid of a runny nose, especially if it is caused by the common cold or a viral infection. There are a few different ways you may harness the power of this herb:
- Mixing it with milk: Mix a teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of warm milk (replace with water if you are lactose intolerant) and drink it right before you go to bed. Your affliction will seem a lot less severe when you wake up in the morning!
- Smoke inhalation:For this treatment you will need a teaspoon of turmeric powder and some linseed oil. Once you have gathered these ingredients, you need to undergo the following steps:
- Add a few drops of linseed oil to a teaspoon of turmeric powder to make a thick paste.
- Put this paste on a low flame so that it starts smoldering.
- Take deep breaths for about five minutes via one of the nostrils. Make sure that you keep alternating between the nostrils.
- Turmeric tea: To make the turmeric tea, you will need the following ingredients:
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder.
- ½ teaspoon of powdered cinnamon.
- 1 teaspoon of grated ginger.
- A pinch of powdered clove.
- 2 teaspoons of honey.
- Drinking water (2 cups).
You can make the turmeric tea with the help of the following steps:
- Mix all the ingredients in water (minus the honey) and let it first boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Strain and add the honey.
Your turmeric tea is now ready! Have this twice daily to get rid of your runny nose within a few days!
If none of the options sound too appealing, you may pay a visit to your local health store and procure a bottle of turmeric supplements and consume about 1500 mg a day.
- Salt Water
Salt can get rid of your runny nose because of two main reasons:
- It is a natural astringent, allowing it to kill microbes by drawing all of the water out of their cells.
- It helps dislodge the mucus from the nasal cavity, making it easier to expel.
You can easily get rid of your runny nose using salt water via the following steps:
- Take an 8 oz. glass of lukewarm water and mix one tablespoon of table salt in it.
- Lie down and use a dropper to pour two drops of this solution in each of your nostrils.
- Gently inhale so as the lukewarm salt water can go as far back in your nostrils as possible.
- Sit on an upright position and blow out your nose to get some immediate relief.
Repeating this twice a day will help you get rid of a runny nose within a few days!
When it comes to treating a runny nose, ginger pretty much has the exact same properties as that of turmeric. Just like turmeric, there are multiple ways you can use ginger to get rid of this affliction.
- Chew on it: Simple peel and chop up a teaspoon of ginger and chew on it! Some may find the taste of raw ginger to be too pungent. If you are one of them, then you may consider adding a pinch of salt or half a teaspoon of honey to the ginger pieces before you start chewing on them.
- Ginger tea: Having some ginger tea can probably be the most delicious way for you to get rid of your runny nose. Following is how you can make the tea:
- Gather a piece of fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, some honey, a slice of lemon and drinking water.
- Peel the ginger and chop it up into fine pieces.
- Add it to two cups of water and boil it for about seven minutes.
- Turn off the flame and add the cinnamon stick. Cover and let it simmer for about two more minutes.
- Take a cup and add a teaspoon of honey in it.
- Strain the solution into the cup. Make sure that the honey is thoroughly mixed.
- Add the lemon slice and enjoy!
You can have this up to four times a day.
Your local health food store would probably carry some ginger lozenges that you can suck on during the course of the day as well.
You may have noticed that it is recommended to add honey to many of the home remedies that have been mentioned so far. This is not an accident, because besides being a delicious natural sweetener, it has strong anti-microbial properties as well, which may come in handy when you are trying to cure a runny nose. There are a few ways you can use honey to cure your affliction:
- Mix it with warm water: Mix two teaspoons of honey in a glass of warm water and drink it daily. Feel free to add a few drops of lemon juice as well!
- Honey and cinnamon syrup: To make this syrup you will need the following ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons of honey.
- ½ tablespoon of lemon juice.
- A pinch of powdered cinnamon.
Thoroughly mix the ingredients together and consume it twice daily to get rid of your runny nose!
Garlic has natural anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that can be harnessed to get rid of a runny nose. There are a couple of options you could try:
- Chew on it: Just like ginger, you may consider peeling a piece of garlic clove and chew on it for about four times every day. This will warm your body and you may be cured of your affliction in a matter of days!
- Garlic soup: Simple boil four peeled garlic cloves in a cup of water, strain and drink! If this does not appeal to you that much, you may also consider adding a few pieces of garlic cloves to a can of soup while you heat it. Chances are that it may actually improve the taste! This treatment can be applied twice daily.
Heath food stores tend to carry garlic supplements, which you may consider as well!
Anecdotal evidence suggests that massaging the following acupressure points may relieve runny nose caused by the common cold, sinusitis, food allergens and seasonal allergens:
- The corner of your nose.
- Above the eye.
Following is how you would apply the treatment:
- Press the corner of one of your nostrils about ten times. Repeat this on your other nostril.
- Press the corner of your eyebrow (the end closest to the nose) about ten times. Repeat the same on your other eyebrow.
- Massage both your earlobes for about ten seconds.
Feel free to apply this as many times as you like during the course of the day. If you do not get any relief from this treatment, you may seek the help of a qualified acutherapist to check and see whether you are doing it right!
When to See a Doctor
The home remedies mentioned above are extremely effective and chances are that a runny nose will never cause you to visit the doctor’s office. However, you should not delay visiting a qualified medical practitioner during the following exceptional circumstances:
- For infants: In case an infant is suffering from a runny nose, you should take her to a pediatrician right away in case of the following:
- The runny nose is causing difficulties for the child to breathe or nurse properly.
- If she is suffering from fever as well.
- For everyone else: You should pay a visit to the doctor’s office in the following cases:
- If the symptoms have lasted for 10 days or more.
- If the sufferer has a fever as well.
- If there is any pain in the throat or if there are any white spots on the throat or the tonsils.
- If the nasal discharge has a foul odor, of it has any color other than white or yellow.
- If you have suffered from a recent head injury then you should visit your physician right away, especially if there is blood in the nasal discharge.
- If you are on immune-suppressants, or if you have been diagnosed with asthma or emphysema.
- If there is any swelling around your nasal cavities. Such swelling would be visible on your forehead, around your nose or on the cheek.
- If you have blurred vision.