What home remedies can help with a runny nose?
A runny nose can be one of the most annoying symptoms of the common cold. Thankfully, there are several natural and home remedies to try.
In this article, we look at the following ways to stop a runny nose:
- hot drinks
- hot steam inhalation
- hot baths
- neti pots
We also look at the evidence supporting these remedies and list some tips for coping with a runny nose.
Five ways to stop a runny nose
1. Having a hot drink
A hot drink is a traditional, well-known remedy for a cold. In fact, there is some science to back up this home treatment.
A 2009 study published in Rhinology found that drinking a hot beverage helped to reduce the symptoms of a cold.
The study noted that the effect might be mainly psychological, but it also identified a physical reaction. The hot drink stimulated a nerve linked to the oral and nasal cavities, which may explain the relief of cold symptoms.
2. Hot steam inhalations
There are different ways to perform a hot steam inhalation, but the basic idea is the same. A person adds herbs or essential oils to hot water, leans over the water, and breathes in the steam.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences looked at ways steam inhalations containing various additives helped to treat symptoms of the common cold.
3. A hot bath
A person can likely get some of the benefits of steam inhalation while soaking in a hot bath.
Resting in a hot bath will naturally lead to inhaling some steam, while also helping to relax the muscles of the body.
The study found that symptoms improved faster and more effectively with inhalations than without.
4. Neti pots
A neti pot is a device that looks like a small teapot. People use it to flush out the nose and sinuses.
To use a neti pot, a person should lean over the sink, tilt their head sideways, and pour water from the pot into one nostril until the pot is empty.
If done right, the water will be released from the opposite nostril. The person should then refill the pot and repeat the process on the other side.
Neti pots may seem like a strange concept, and they are a bit messier than nasal sprays. However, they can be effective at clearing up a runny nose. Various brands are available to purchase online.
A 2009 study in The Journal of Family Practice found that "large-volume, low-pressure irrigation," such as that achieved using a neti pot, was more effective than nasal spray at improving the investigated nasal sinusitis symptoms, including a runny nose.
5. Chili nasal spray or spicy food
A 2016 review published in Current Allergy and Asthma Reports found that nasal spray containing capsaicin — the compound that gives chili peppers their heat — could effectively treat non-allergic rhinitis. This condition causes a runny nose, among other symptoms.
Spicy food can initially make a runny nose worse. However, the authors noted that capsaicin is unique among natural irritants because the mild irritation it causes is followed by a long-lasting period during which symptoms significantly improve.
While capsaicin nasal spray has proven effective, people are not advised to make their own at home, using chili powder. Tested brands are available to purchase online.
A person with a runny nose may also benefit from eating the spiciest food they can handle. The runny nose is likely to get worse during the meal, but any sinus congestion may improve shortly after the meal is finished.
Tips for coping with a runny nose
Soft, moisturizing tissues may help to relieve pain caused by raw skin around the nose.
The following are some straightforward tips to help clear up a runny nose and make the whole experience less unpleasant:
- Use soft, essential oil-infused tissues. One of the most irritating parts of having a runny nose is rubbing the skin raw by continually wiping it. Using extra-soft, essential oil-infused tissues may soothe raw skin and prevent further irritation. These tissues are also available online.
- Use the most effective remedies just before bed. Sleep is essential for mood and overall health, not least when recovering from a cold. Use the most effective treatments at bedtime to ensure a restful night.
- Focus on relaxing at home until the problem clears up. It might be hard to enjoy a social event while feeling self-conscious about a runny nose. Viewing the symptom as a reason to stay home and focus on recovery can be helpful.
When to see a doctor
A runny nose is typically not a medical emergency. However, it can be a symptom of certain chronic or acute conditions, such as a sinus infection or rhinitis.
If a runny nose does not begin to improve after a few days, it may be a good idea to consult a doctor, especially if the person is also experiencing flu-like symptoms.