10 Tips to Relieve Your Runny Nose or Nasal Congestion
Got a case of the sniffles? Chances are that your nose is running faster than a waterfall. Or maybe your nose feels all stuffed up, forcing you to breathe out of your mouth. Or worse-both. A runny nose and nasal congestion are both uncomfortable upper respiratory symptoms with their own underlying causes. But once they start, you want relief, fast.
A runny nose is a discharge of mucus from the nostrils. It’s the result of excess nasal mucus production. The excess nasal mucus leads to watery nasal secretions that flow out of your nostrils or drip down into your throat.
Nasal congestion is due to the inflammation of the linings of the nasal cavity. Swollen nasal passages constrict air flow, making it harder to breathe through your nose. The inflammation also makes it harder to get mucus out of your nose, so you may also have a build-up of thick, dry mucus, as well. It causes you to feel stuffed up, which is why it’s also referred to as a stuffy nose.
The common cold and the flu are often the culprits of a runny nose and/or nasal congestion,1 but they can both also be caused by allergies.
These are not the only symptom of the cold or flu. You may also experience other associated symptoms, like sneezing, coughing, chest congestion, a sore throat, headaches, and body aches.
Find out how to relieve your upper-respiratory symptoms like nasal congestion and runny nose so you can feel better fast.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
Avoid liquids like caffeine that can cause dehydration.
- Sip a medicated hot drink.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Apply a warm compress.
- Get steamy.
Inhaling warm (not hot) steam can help soothe the mucous membranes lining the nose and make the mucus thinner. This will help you drain your mucus faster.
- Use a humidifier.
- Try a saline nasal spray.
- Rinse your nose with a neti pot.
- Eat a spicy meal.
- Use the right over-the-counter medicines.
If your symptoms become severe or last more than 10 days, please contact your healthcare provider.1
Nasal Congestion and Runny Nose Etiquette: What to Do if You Have a Runny Nose
CDC. Common Colds. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published February 11, 2019. Accessed June 10, 2020. http://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/index.html
Sanu A, Eccles R. The effects of a hot drink on nasal airflow and symptoms of common cold and flu. Rhinology. 2008;46(4):271-275.
Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J. Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Arch. 2012;463(1):121-137. doi:10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0
Besedovsky L, Ngo H-VV, Dimitrov S, Gassenmaier C, Lehmann R, Born J. Auditory closed-loop stimulation of EEG slow oscillations strengthens sleep and signs of its immune-supportive function. Nat Commun. 2017;8. doi:10.1038/s41467-017-02170-
Fokkens W, Hellings P, Segboer C. Capsaicin for Rhinitis. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2016;16(8):60. doi:10.1007/s11882-016-0638-1