Runny Nose – Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and Prevention


The nose is a significant organ in the body since it allows people to breathe. It connects the lungs to the atmosphere, allowing air to enter and exit the lungs. 

The issue arises when an allergen or a virus enters the nose with the air. These allergies pique the linings of the nasal cavity and the sinuses. As a result, the nose produces mucus that traps bacteria, viruses, and foreign bodies. 

Mucus aids in the removal of irritants from the nose and sinuses, which is manifested in the form of a runny nose.

What is a runny nose? 

Rhinorrhoea, commonly referred to as runny nose, occurs when excess mucus drains from the nose. Mucus can be thin or thick, clear or opaque, and intermittent or continuous.

Causes of runny nose 

Typically, the nose and sinuses produce mucus, which keeps the nose moist and is swept back into the throat and swallowed. There are numerous conditions that can bring about a runny nose.


A runny nose can be caused by allergic rhinitis or allergies. People frequently experience a runny nose due to allergies during the spring months.

Rhinorrhoea may result from the body’s inflammatory response to pollen in the air. Pollen can be from weeds, grasses, trees or flowering plants. 

Allergy nasal secretions are usually clear, but they may contain pus.

Cold temperatures 

Cold and dry air irritates the nasal lining, causing the nasal glands to produce extra mucus to keep the nose lining moist. This can result in large, heavy drops dripping from the nostrils.

Common cold 

Mucus caused due to illnesses can accumulate in the nasal cavity and cause temporary nasal obstruction, resulting in a runny nose.


Tears flow from the tear glands beneath the eyelids and drain into the nose while crying. There, tears mix with mucus and cause a running nose.

Sinus infection

When the cavities around the nasal passage get inflamed, sinus infection occurs. This inflammation also stimulates mucus production in the nose, causing a runny nose.

Non-allergic rhinitis

Mucus can form due to a nasal reaction to an irritant such as smoke or pollution or the body’s reaction to other stimuli such as cold weather or hot food.


Adenoids, which are located behind the nose (nasopharynx), can become infected, resulting in the production of infected mucus.

Deviated septum

A bone and cartilage from the nasal septum separate the right and left sides of the nose. The septum can sometimes lean more to one side, causing an obstruction on that side. 

A deviated septum can cause sinus infections and inflammation in the nasal passage, resulting in a runny nose.

Symptoms of runny nose 


Fatigue is frequently associated with allergic rhinitis because a runny nose can make it difficult to sleep and perform day-to-day activities, making a person restless and tired.

Sore throat  

When the tissues lining the nose swell, it brings about nasal congestion. Swelling is caused by inflamed blood vessels. 

It is accompanied by nasal discharge or a runny nose. Excess mucus in the back of the throat, known as postnasal drip, can cause a sore throat.


Mucus not only prevents harmful particles from entering the lungs but also contains antibodies that aid in destroying bacteria. 

If the body produces excess mucus, it will try to get rid of it by coughing, spitting it out and blowing it out of the nose.


Our immune system prevents the virus or bacteria from growing by raising the body’s temperature, resulting in fever.

Treatments for runny nose


Adequate rest and sleep are critical for the body to heal. According to research, the body creates new immune system cells while sleeping. 

During sleep, proteins known as cytokines that are significant for fighting infection and inflammation are produced and released. 

This implies that getting enough sleep can help the immune system stay in good shape. Furthermore, resting will provide a person with a much-needed break from blowing their nose.

Saline nasal spray

Saline nasal sprays also assist in the health of the cilia in the nose. Cilia are tiny hair-like structures that help humidify the air entering the lungs and entrap bacteria to impede them from entering the cells. They also improve the sense of smell. 

Research suggests that saline sprays help treat rhinitis, sinusitis and rhinorrhoea by keeping cilia healthy.

Plenty of fluids 

Staying hydrated keeps the mucus inside the nose thin and moist, allowing the cilia to do their job of pushing debris and germs out of our sinuses and preventing infection. 

So, remember to stay hydrated and keep those cilia moving during a runny nose!

A cool-mist humidifier 

A humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can alleviate symptoms and reduce nasal congestion caused by a cold. During a runny nose and a dry cough, adding water vapour to the air seems to make breathing easier.

Prevention of runny nose

Washing hands frequently

Washing hands prevents the spread of pathogens that cause infections and colds, which in turn results in a running nose. 

Throw away used tissues 

Used tissues contain live germs that can pass on to other individuals. It is always advised to discard the used ones after wiping or blowing the nose. 

Staying away from those who have cold

The best way to ward off a cold is to frequently wash your hands and keep away from close contact with sick people. 

It is better to avoid touching the nose or eyes around people who have colds because the hands may be contaminated with the virus.

Eat healthily and exercise regularly

Foods that are healthy and nutritious help boost the immune system, preventing the occurrence of a runny nose. Exercising regularly keeps a person fit and helps improve the symptoms of the runny nose if occurred.

Cough and sneeze into the elbow 

Coughing and sneezing into the forearm keep germs off the hands, preventing an individual from spreading them to others and making them sick.

Clean and disinfect common surfaces

Touching contaminated surfaces or objects and touching their eyes, nose, or mouth could cause a runny nose.

Home remedies for runny nose

Hot tea 

Hot beverages, including tea, can help to clear a runny nose. The heat and steam from the hot liquid work by opening up the nasal airways. Consider herbal teas with mint, ginger or chamomile due to their anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties.

Facial steam  

Hot steam has been shown to help relieve a runny nose. 


  • Warm up a pot of water. Heat it just enough to keep the water from boiling. 
  • Then, take deep breaths from the steam for a few minutes. 
  • Repeat this process several times, then gently blow the nose when finished.
  • A few drops of essential oils can also be added to the hot water, such as tea tree, peppermint, thyme or eucalyptus oil.

Hot shower  

The spray from a hot shower, like the steam from facial steam, provides quick relief and helps alleviate swollen nasal passages and a runny nose.

Neti pot  

Neti pots are teapot-shaped containers with a long nozzle on one side. 

Fill the container with a warm salt water solution and insert it through one of the nostrils. The solution will exit the nose on the other side. 

To avoid a sinus infection, carefully follow the directions that come with the Neti pot and use distilled water.

Nasal spray  

They are commonly known as saline nasal sprays, and one can buy them without a prescription. They loosen up the mucus and keep it from getting dry.

Warm compress  

Warm compresses can help mitigate sinus pressure and pain by reducing swelling and opening the sinus passage. 

Lie down for about 15 minutes and place a warm, wet washcloth over the brow and bridge of the nose. 

By decreasing inflammation and opening the nasal cavity, a warm compress can help clear a stuffy nose.

Eat spicy foods  

Capsaicin, a chemical in spicy foods like chilli peppers, can help relieve a non-allergic runny nose.

While eating spicy foods, the runny nose may worsen initially, but the heat will relieve it in the long run.

When to see a doctor? 

A runny nose can be bothersome and uncomfortable, but it usually goes away on its own. 

It can rarely be a symptom of a more severe problem. A runny nose can be dangerous in infants.

Doctor consultation is required if a person experiences the following symptoms.

  • A runny nose that lasts more than ten days
  • High temperature
  • Yellow or green mucus discharge with sinus pain. This could be an indication of a bacterial infection.
  • Blood in the nasal discharge or a persistent clear discharge following a head injury.
  • A child aged below two months with fever.
  • A runny nose or congestion in the baby with difficulty in nursing or breathing.


A runny nose and mucus discharge from the nose are common symptoms of respiratory diseases. The mucus glands and cilia in the nasal cavity constantly work to remove pathogens from the nose. 

However, the problem arises when the nasal cavity’s activities slow down. As a result, mucus drips continuously from the nose, causing a runny nose. 

One need not be concerned about a runny nose because it can be treated at home without requiring surgical intervention. 

Staying hydrated, using facial steam, taking warm baths, drinking herbal tea and using a nasal spray help prevent and treat a runny nose.


How do I stop my runny nose?

Staying hydrated, sipping a hot drink, taking adequate rest, using a steamer, warm compress, humidifier and a saline nasal spray, and taking the right OTC (Over-the-Counter) medications can stop a runny nose.

How do I get rid of my runny nose? 

A runny nose can be relieved by staying hydrated, drinking a hot drink, getting enough rest, using a steamer, warm compress, humidifier and saline nasal spray, and taking the appropriate Over-the-Counter medications.

What do you do when your nose is really runny? 

Drinking hot tea and using facial steam besides drinking water and taking medications help treat a runny nose.

How to stop a runny nose in 5 minutes? 

A runny nose can be treated, and symptoms can be subsided early but not within 5 minutes. Taking over-the-counter medications helps treat the condition as early as possible.

Is a runny nose contagious? 

A runny nose is not contagious in and of itself. It is frequently a symptom of a contagious condition like the common cold, which can be passed from person to person.

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