Runny nose is a very common, yet an annoying phenomenon. Runny nose or in medical terms we call it as ‘Rhinorrhea’ is condition where the tissues present in the nasal cavity secrete a large amount of mucus. The term ‘Rhinorrhea’ was coined by Greeks, “rhino” means “associated with nose” and “rhoia” means “discharge”.
The excess mucus from a runny nose can start dripping down your nose externally or it can even drip internally down the back of your throat i.e. post nasal drip. Runny nose is commonly caused by allergies, bacteria, diseases like hay fever; it can even be a side effect of crying, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, cocaine abuse, etc.
In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to get rid of a runny nose, but before that let understand the science behind the runny nose.
Science behind Runny Nose:
As I have foretold, runny nose is a condition where the nasal tissues produce a large amount of mucus. So, what causes these tissues to produce such large amounts of mucus?
Well, there are four main reasons for it:
- Bacterial Infections: When germs enter you nasal passage then as a reaction to that the tissues and the membranes in the nasal passage become inflamed and produce mucus at a much higher rate. This is done to flush out these germs. The extra mucus runs down your nose or sometimes even from the back of your throat.
- Allergies: If you are allergic to anything then your body treats it the same way as if it is a germ and starts the mucus secretion process to flush it out.
- While crying: While crying the tears coming from your eyes flow down your nose though the nasolacrimal duct present at the corner of your eyes. These tears then mix with the mucus and run down your nose.
- In cold temperature: In cold temperatures your nasal tissues produce more mucus to warm up the cold air as it travels up your nose to lungs. Your body does this to maintain its temperature as cold air if inhaled can drop your body temperature very fast.
Symptoms of a Runny Nose:
A runny nose is characterised by following symptoms:
- Production on mucus in excess amounts by the nasal membranes. These membranes produce mucus at such a high rate that accumulation of mucus in the nasal cavities may also take place.
- As the nasal cavity fills up with mucus, there may also be difficulty in breathing.
- In severe cases, this surplus mucus may also get deposited in the sinuses there by causing pain across face and forehead.
- In some cases, the extra mucus backs up through the Eustachian tube, thereby causing ear congestion (severe pain in ear with temporary loss of hearing).
- This extra mucus drips down the back of throat, and this is called post nasal drip. Post nasal drip can then cause sore throat and coughing.
How to get rid of a Runny Nose:
Generally the treatment of a runny nose is not mandatory – it usually clears on its own after a few days. Blowing your nose can help to release the excess mucus, but if you consider it aesthetically unpleasing, then you must read the below methods to get rid of a runny nose:
Steaming is one of the best methods to cure a runny nose. The warmth of steam dilates the nasal membranes and soothes them, thereby stopping the excess mucus production. Steaming can also help to cure other problems like stuffy nose, sinusitis or ear congestion.
To do this take a bowl of hot steaming water, if you feel comfortable then add few drops of eucalyptus oil drops to it. Next, keep your face over the bowl but at a safe distance and cover both the bowl and your face with a clean towel as shown.
Inhale the steam for few minutes and then blow your nose. Doing this for 10-15 minutes can give instant comfort to soothe a runny nose.
Drinking lots of fluids:
Drinking lots of fluids can also helps in getting rid of a runny nose. Water keeps the body well hydrated and allowing it to fight with the germs with its full efficiency. In cases of a runny nose, you can take fluids like hot soups, herbal teas or even a plain glass of warm water with few drops of honey can help.
Irrigating the nasal passage:
Irrigating your nose with salt water can be very helpful to cure the problem. Salt water mixes with the mucus, draws water from the inflamed nasal membranes there by relieving them. It also helps in clearing out any possible irritants present in the nose.
Preparing salt water and using it is quite simple. Just take a cup of water and mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt to it. Next, using a medicinal dropper put some drops of the liquid in your nose (one nostril at a time). Tilt your head backwards and allow the liquid to flow through your nasal cavity.
After 30 seconds, lean your head forward and let the liquid flow out. Do the same procedure for the other nostril as well.
Note: If you feel comfortable you could also do this using a Neti Pot instead of a dropper.
Invest in a Humidifier:
A humidifier is one of the best things to invest into if you have to deal with a runny nose too frequently. Increase in humidity can make the air around you moist and hence reduces the inflammation of the nasal membranes.
Suction tubes come very handy when the subject is a newborn. To use a suction tube, first press the bulb to force the air inside it to move outwards, then insert it in the nose and slowly release the pressure on the bulb, due to the vacuum created inside the bulb it sucks the mucus inside thereby clearing out the mucus.
Massaging the pressure points:
You can get a quick relief from runny nose by massaging the right pressure points on your face. This is one of the best and safest methods to cure a runny nose.
To try this remedy, place the index fingers on the either side of your eye cavity (the part of nose at the corner of eyes). Now start massaging this area with your index fingers in a circular motion. Do this for 20 – 30 seconds.
Next, using your index finger and thumb massage your ear lobes in a circular motion for 20-30 seconds. Then, place your thumbs on your cheek bone and massage them in a circular motion for 20 – 30 seconds. Repeat this 10 times. This method can provide quick relief from a runny nose.
Chewing Raw Ginger or Garlic:
It is scientifically proved that chewing raw ginger or garlic increases the blood circulation and reduces the production of nasal mucus. For best results it is recommended to do this 3 to 4 times a day.
Another natural treatment to stop a runny nose is to put a single drop of mustard oil into each nostril with a medicinal dropper. And then allow it to settle by breathing naturally for a few minutes and repeats the process for the other nostril as well.
Antihistamines are a category of drugs that can relieve the runny nose or stuffy nose very quickly. The basic purpose of antihistamines is that they block the production of histamines.
Histamines are the chemicals produced by the human body in the event of an allergy. If your body is allergic to certain things then as a response to those things the immune system of human body produces histamines to protect the body against the allergen. During allergies it is the histamines that actually instructs the nasal membranes to produce extra mucus.
Antihistamine drugs are only beneficial if the cause of a runny nose is allergic. Antihistamines can relieve the allergic symptoms once you have them, but they show better results if you take them before you feel allergic symptoms.
Using antihistamines for prolonged period of time is not recommended as they are likely to reduce the rate of mucus flow, thereby allowing the germs in the nasal passage to stay longer.
Keep Your Head Elevated:
Experts recommend keeping your head elevated before lying down. This is because sleeping flat can make you feel more choked up or it can even push the mucus back into the sinuses. You can use 2-3 pillows or a rolled towel to keep your head slight elevated while sleeping.
Identify the Underlying Cause:
Runny nose can itself be a symptom of many other diseases like: chickenpox, whooping cough etc. So, try to identify the underlying cause of the runny nose. If you are experiencing runny nose very frequently then make sure to visit a doctor and let him identify the underlying cause.
But, if the cause is allergic, then it is best to stay away from the allergen.
Some Do’s and Don’ts:
- Avoid dairy products as these can worsen your condition.
- Taking luke warm lemon juice especially in the morning, can make you feel better.
- Stay away from smoke and dust the best you can.
- Some perfumes, soaps, deodorant can irritate your nasal membranes thereby triggering sneezing or runny nose. So learn to differentiate and purchase only those that won’t hurt you.
- Avoid spicy food, as it can make your condition worse.
- Vitamin C is your best friend. So, increase the intake of citrus fruits like limes, lemons, oranges etc.
So, this was all about how to get rid of a runny nose from my side. Do share your views and experiences in the comments section below.