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.

  1. Drink plenty of fluids.

If you have a stuffy nose, keeping yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water and clear chicken broth to help make your mucus thinner and more fluid. That will allow it to drain faster from your nose and sinuses. Downing lots of liquids will also keep the membranes in your airways lubricated.

Avoid liquids like caffeine that can cause dehydration.

  1. Sip a medicated hot drink.

Hot drinks are comforting when you’re feeling under the weather. When you add FluTherapy Night Time into 8 oz. of hot water, you’ll soon feel relief from nasal congestion, runny nose, and other cold and flu symptoms, too. Be sure to take all of the medicated hot drink within 10-15 minutes. It has an antihistamine to dry up your nasal passages and relieve your runny nose symptoms and cough, as well as a nasal decongestant to relieve the stuffiness from nasal congestion. Then drift off into a good night’s sleep.

  1. Get plenty of rest.

Speaking of sleep… when you’re not feeling well, it’s crucial to get plenty of sleep so your body can heal. Research shows that your body makes new immune system cells when you are asleep.3 Proteins known as cytokines that are important for fighting infection and inflammation are produced and released during sleep.4 This means that sleep can keep your immune system in good shape. Plus, resting will give you a much-needed break from blowing your nose.

  1. Apply a warm compress.

Putting a warm compress to your nose and forehead multiple times a day can help relieve upper respiratory symptoms like nasal congestion. If you don’t have a compress, try moistening a washcloth with warm water and applying it to your face several times a day. This will help to loosen your mucus to help relieve nasal congestion.

  1. Get steamy.

The next time you have a stuffy nose, try sitting in the bathroom with a warm shower running. You can also breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water.

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.

  1. Use a humidifier.

A clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer is a great way to add moisture back into your environment, which will help with nasal congestion. When the air is too dry, your mucus may get thicker and not flow very well, and your sinuses may not drain properly. You can use a humidifier or cool mist vaporizer to add humidity into the air, which will keep your nasal passages moist, allowing mucus to drain faster.

  1. Try a saline nasal spray.

Using a gentle saline nasal spray like Sinex Saline Ultra Fine Nasal Mist can help clear congestion from a cold or allergies. A saline nasal spray helps keep nasal passages open by washing out any allergens like pollen, dust, or pet dander that can lead to nasal congestion. It can also loosen thick or dried mucus to make it easier to remove. The saline solution also helps to soothe dry, irritated nasal passages.

  1. Rinse your nose with a neti pot.

You can use a neti pot to rinse particles or mucus from your nose if you have nasal congestion symptoms. A neti pot is specially designed to help you flush out mucus. To use it, bend your head sideways over the sink and place the spout of the neti pot in the upper nostril, and then pour a saltwater solution into your upper nostril and let the water drain down the lower nose.5 You can also use other devices such as squeeze bottles and pressurized canisters in place of a neti pot.

  1. Eat a spicy meal.

The chemical in spicy foods, capsaicin, can help relieve a runny nose that is not caused by allergies. Capsaicin is the compound that gives chili peppers their heat. While eating spicy foods, your runny nose may get worse at first, but in the long run the heat will relieve your runny nose.6

  1. Use the right over-the-counter medicines.

Over-the-counter cold and flu medicines can help relieve your runny nose and nasal congestion symptoms from a cold or flu, along with other common symptoms. Be sure to identify what symptoms aside from runny nose and nasal congestion you may have to make sure you get the relief you need.

Cold medicines, like NyQuil™ SEVERE, will help dry up your nasal passages to help relieve your runny nose with an antihistamine. It also has a nasal decongestant to relieve your stuffy nose. If you want a soothing rush of Vicks Vapors with the same NyQuil relief, try Nyquil™ SEVERE + VapoCOOL™ Cold & Flu. These multi-symptom products can also relieve other cold and flu symptoms you may experience—like cough, fever, minor aches and pains, nasal congestion, sinus pressure, and sneezing.

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

If you have a runny nose or nasal congestion, you may have the common cold, flu, or allergies. The first two are caused by viruses, which can easily spread to other people if you are not careful enough.

To prevent spreading the cold and flu viruses that give you runny or stuffy nose to those around you, follow these CDC tips1:

  • Stay at home while you are sick and keep children home.
  • Don’t make close contact with other people – avoid hugging, kissing, or shaking hands.
  • Before you cough, sneeze, or blow your runny nose, make sure that you are a safe distance away from people.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue and then throw it away, or cough and sneeze into your upper shirt sleeve while completely covering your mouth and nose.
  • Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, including toys and doorknobs.
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