What to do with your runny nose

Is your nose running on overdrive? You’ve barely just finished blowing your nose and you’re already reaching for another tissue!

Whether it’s running out your nose, or down the back of your throat as a post-nasal drip, mucous can be pretty annoying!  The mucous is there for a reason, though: it helps flush out viruses, germs and all kinds of irritants that can cause allergies. Sometimes, though, the body’s clever protection system needs to be controlled.

What could be causing your nose to run like this?

Besides common cold or flu viruses, there are quite a few other causes for a runny nose – just think what happens when you eat a really hot chili or curry! Some common ones include:

  • allergies (house-dust mite, pollen, grass, pet dander, mould, certain foods)
  • a sinus infection
  • exposure to irritants such as perfumes, chemicals, smoke or cleaning products
  • side effects of certain medications
  • changes in temperature, especially very cold and dry conditions
  • nasal polyps or, in kids, something stuck in the nasal passages

What can you do to ease a runny nose at home?

Besides reaching for a box of tissues and blowing one’s nose all day long, there are a number of things to try!


  • place your face over a bowl or basin of hot water and cover your head with a towel for 10 minutes, then blow your nose gently – try to do this 3-4 times per day
  • alternatively, take a warm bath or shower or use a humidifier
  • you can also add a few drops of peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil or menthol to the water

Apply a warm compress/face cloth to your face

  • place this over your sinuses ( mid-forehead, nose and cheeks)
  • this helps decrease sinus pressure and opens the nasal passages
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Dealing with allergies

If you suffer from allergies, clean up and cover up! The best way to deal with runny nose caused by allergies is prevention. You can get rid of the common triggers if you dust and vacuum regularly, wash your bedding often in hot water, and cover your mattress and pillow cases with house-dust mite-proof covers. Consider an anti-histamine tablet and a cortisone nasal spray if you suffer from allergies

 Rinse out or flush your sinuses and nasal passages

Irrigation helps remove allergens or infected mucous from the nasal passages. To do it,  you can buy a saline solution rinse product, or saline nasal spray from a pharmacy, or you can flush with a bulb syringe or Neti-pot. Ask your pharmacist how to use the Neti-pot correctly.

Here are some additional tips

  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself well hydrated
  • Try Vaporub on your chest
  • Stock up on supplements containing Magnesium (400mg/day) and Zinc (15mg/day)
  • Make ginger tea with honey

When should you see a doctor?

If you have a fever, or if the symptoms have lasted for longer than a week, it’s time to see your doctor – and also in the following cases:

  • If the mucous contains bloody nasal discharge, or you have facial pain/pressure together with green or yellow nasal discharge
  • If you have a bad headache
  • If there’s been a head injury, followed by on-going clear nasal discharge
  • In the case of a child: if there’s a fever, or if your child is younger than 6 months old.