Runny noses are caused by inflammation and excess mucous production in nasal passageways. These thin secretions build up and then drip down both the nose and throat. This can cause symptoms in addition to whatever is causing the issue, not to mention irritation and perpetuating existing symptoms.

The best way to relieve a runny nose is to target both the outer symptoms and inner inflammation. While blowing the nose is a great place to start, there are a plethora of home remedies that can ease symptoms and speed up healing.

Drink Fluids

Hydration is one of the best responses to a runny nose. An increase in fluids thins nasal mucus, which helps it clear from the nose faster. One study found that hot drinks yielded the best results for congestion relief.

Water, chicken broth, and juices are all excellent options to stay hydrated.

drinking water


Use a Humidifier

Humidifiers offer quick relief for stuffy or runny noses. Added moisture reduces nasal inflammation, helps soften mucus, and allows mucous to clear from nasal passages efficiently. Research suggests that cool-air humidifiers are more effective for relieving runny noses than their warm-air counterparts. It is recommended to keep the humidity levels between 30-50% for best results.



Take a Hot Shower

Soothing steam helps ease cold symptoms and provides relief for sore muscles associated with the flu—these are both conditions that often come with a runny nose. Hot showers raise body temperature, which influences both the nervous and hormonal systems.

Scientists believe these responses cause mechanical changes on a cellular level, which help alleviate runny noses. One study found that inhaling warm steam three times a day cut the duration of cold symptoms in half.

man taking a hot shower


Give a Neti Pot a Go

Some people love Neti pots, while others are appalled by them. However, these little pots are incredibly effective in flushing out mucus, dirt, and particles from the sinuses. To use this unique wellness tool, the user fills a Neti pot with sterile water, tilts their head sideways, and pours the water into one nostril. The water will wash out extra mucus and flow from the other nostril as the head tilts back to an upright position.

woman rinsing her nose


Try a Nasal Spray

There are a variety of nasal sprays on the market. From simple saline spray to severe congestion nasal mists, nasal sprays help clear out mucus and relieve inflammation. By shrinking congested blood vessels, nasal sprays allow more air to pass through the nostrils and help relieve runny nose symptoms.

The FDA found nasal sprays to be incredibly effective at relieving nasal congestion.

woman with nasal spray


Eat Spicy Foods

A tried and true method, spicy food can help clear nasal passages fast. Spicy chemicals in hot foods irritate mucous membranes, causing the nose to run and clear out mucus. While eating, the runniness of the nose may increase, but this allows mucus to be cleared out for good, leaving passages clear after the meal.

One study suggests that regular consumption of spicy foods can be a huge boon to people with chronic cold symptoms.

woman with pepper in hand


Apply a Warm Compress

Warm compresses offer a comforting relief from runny noses. The warm cloth helps soothe swollen mucous membranes and adds moisture to the air around nasal passages. As the warm compress loosens up mucous, it offers temporary relief from nasal irritation.

To make a warm compress, soak a clean cloth in hot water before placing it over the forehead and nose, being sure to cover the nostrils and breath through the mouth.

warm compress


Take OTC Medications

During a cold, the body produces chemicals called histamines. Histamines are a targeted immune response and, though they're important for sleep and cognitive functioning, also cause allergy-like symptoms. This is the body's way of trying to flush germs and toxins out of its system.

Over-the-counter cold remedies include antihistamines in an effort to reduce the symptoms from this process. Studies have found over-the-counter medications shorten both the length and severity of cold symptoms.

woman taking medication


Try Capsaicin

Capsaicin is a chemical found in spicy foods. As noted above, spicy foods can be incredibly helpful when battling stuffy or runny noses. Capsaicin works by irritating mucous membranes, which encourages the production of more mucus. This mucus runs out of the nose, trying to clear the chemical. As the mucus runs, the nose clears. Capsaicin may also dull nasal sensation, making the runny nose less irritating.

Recent research suggests that a capsaicin nasal spray, good for symptoms brought about by rhinovirus, may also be helpful for nasal conditions brought on by allergies.

nasal spray


Get Some Rest

Sleep plays a critical role in the body's immune system and healing process. During sleep, the body produces proteins called cytokines, which are responsible for controlling inflammation and supporting the immune system. During illness, cytokine production increases when we sleep, allowing the body to heal faster.

Extra sleep has been shown to decrease the healing time for colds and runny noses, and getting more than eight hours a night was correlated with decreased susceptibility to cold viruses. Doctors recommend sleeping on your side, propped up by pillows during runny nose episodes; this allows the mucus to drain more effectively.

woman resting


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