Before reading to how to stop a runny nose, you must know the reason for running nose.
A runny nose is your body’s mechanism to protect yourself from allergies and infections. Your body has several openings through which allergens and viruses can enter. And the nose is one such opening through which allergens can enter.
To protect itself from allergens, your nose produces a large quantity of sticky fluid discharge called mucus. The function of this mucus is to trap the dust and pollen that enters your body.
Usually, there is a small quantity of mucus inside your nose. But the mucus quantity increases when your body is under attack from a lot of pollen, dust, and viruses. The mucus is more watery during this time to flush out the pollen and viruses from your nasal membranes.
It is crucial to flush out the viruses and the allergen because if left unattended it can cause serious infections like lung infection and pneumonia.
Runny nose symptoms and signs
- Postnasal drip – the nasal discharge goes into the throat instead of coming out from the nose.
- Change of smell – your child may not be able to smell anything, or he may smell something different.
- Headache – your child may complain about frequent headaches.
- Blocked nose – your child may not be able to breathe in through his nose due to a blocked nose.
It is crucial for you to identify and treat runny noses promptly because
if a runny nose is left untreated, it can lead to the following
- Glue ear – A ear infection
- Sinusitis – infection of sinuses
- Chronic Bronchial asthma
Now that you have looked at the runny nose symptoms and what a runny nose can lead to, let us look at the various causes of runny nose in your child.
You may not be aware of the root cause of the runny nose in your child. A runny nose could mean a cold or allergies to something serious like a sinus infection.
Here is the list of common causes of runny nose in children
When it is very cold – when we exhale – warm air is released to the cold environment. Because there is a huge temperature difference between the exhaled air and the outside air, the water vapour in the exhaled air condenses and creates droplets of water. This causes a runny nose or watering from your baby’s nose.
Some substances cause allergic reactions in your child’s nose and sinuses. These allergic substances are called allergens and go inside the nose while inhaling. Allergens can be pollens from trees, grass and moulds or your house dust.
Many viruses can cause a runny nose. One of the common viruses causing a runny nose is the Rhinovirus. Rhinoviruses enter inside your child’s body through touch and via body fluids. The source is usually another infected person. This causes viral infections and leads to a runny nose.
Smoke is full of unburned or partially burned particles which cause allergy when inhaled. When your child breathes in such smoke, it leads to an allergic reaction, which causes a runny nose.
Breathing in the pollution flames from cars and other vehicles for a long time causes a breakdown in the integrity of the sinus and nasal air passages. This process breaks the nasal barrier, which damages the cells in the tissues and leads to a runny nose.
Adenoids are glands located in the roof of your child’s mouth, behind the soft palate where the nose connects to the throat. The adenoids protect us from infections.
Sometimes, the adenoids themselves are infected and get enlarged. This causes a runny nose, breathing in through the mouth, irregular arrangement of teeth and difficulty in sleeping.
When some foreign object is present in the nose of your child, it leads to runny nose, pus-like discharge and foul smell from one nostril.
While children are more prone to runny noses but adults can get runny noses too.
Allergic Rhinitis is the allergic response to specific allergens like pollen and dust, which leads to a runny nose.
With the sudden change in the temperature, the blood vessels inside your nose expand. This causes the lining inside the nose to swell and leads to a runny nose. This may also happen when you eat spicy food.
A runny nose often gets triggered when you eat foods that you may be allergic to.
A few drugs trigger a runny nose in some people. Some of them are
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin,
- Medications for high blood pressure.
Thyroid level, female sex hormones affect the membrane of your nasal passages, causing your mucus passage to be more reactive. This leads to a runny nose.
Some nasal decongestants cause a condition called rebound congestion if you use it for longer than three days in a row. This process is referred to as rhinitis medicamentosa and leads to a runny nose.
Now that you know the causes of runny nose in you and your baby, it’s time to have a look at how to stop it.
Clearing out the pollen, dust and mucus is the best way to stop your runny nose. Gently blow your nose using a tissue paper if your nose is extremely runny.
- Rip a tissue paper in half.
- Roll the pieces into two small balls.
- Place one tissue ball in each nostril and breathe from your mouth.
- Gently blow your nose.
- Use a wet tissue paper ball if you find the process too irritating.
- Repeat the process frequently so that the pollens and dust do not settle inside your nose.
Saline nasal drops loosen up your mucus and reduce the irritation in your nose. Once the mucus is loosened up, it is easy to wash out the discharge from your nose. This process rinses your nostril and sinuses.
How to use saline nasal drops properly
- Blow your nose gently
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Lie down on a bed and hang your head over the edge.
- Place the correct number of drops into your nose. Avoid touching the dropper tip against your clean nose.
- Clean the dropper with warm water and wash your hands.
Some allergens and viruses go to your throat, and cannot be removed through your nose. When you gargle with warm salt water, a high salt barrier is formed around your throat, which sucks in all the waste in the form of fluids from the tissues which you later spit out. The anti-bacterial properties of salt are also useful.
Saltwater gargle also soothes your sore throat by adding moisture to it and decreases the upper respiratory tract infections.
How to perform Salt Water Gargle
- Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a glass full of warm water
- Gargle the solution for a few seconds
- Make sure that you face upwards while gargling
- Spit out the solution
- Optional: you can also mix lemon or honey to the warm water
The allergens and pollens enter your sinuses and block them. This leads to painful sinus. When you inhale steam, the water vapour enters inside your sinus. The water vapour condenses into water droplets and flushes out the mucous and in turn, opens up your sinuses.
Steam adds moisture into the air. Since you would be covering your head, the moisture in the air goes inside the nose, sinuses and throat as you breathe. The moisture soothes your nose and sinuses, providing you relief from a runny nose.
How to perform a steam inhalation therapy
- Massage your face thoroughly with oil primarily in the forehead and nasal region.
- Boil the water in a container till sufficient steam appears.
- Add a decongestant like a eucalyptus oil in the boiled water.
- Cover your head with a cloth and point your nose towards the steam.
- Inhale the steam for 10 minutes.
- Continue this remedy for 2 to 3 days or till the symptoms subside.
The chemical theophylline present in the tea helps to open up and decongest the passage to the lungs, which makes it easy for you to breathe. Hot tea also encourages the fluids in your nose to drain away. This process helps in stopping runny nose.
You can also add a few pieces of fresh ginger while preparing your tea. The gingerols and shogaols present in the ginger kill the rhinoviruses, which causes a runny nose and cold. Frequent consumption of ginger promotes salivation and mucous secretion which you can spit out, thus giving you relief from a runny nose.
Traditional hot drinks like Kashayam (decoction) and pepper rasam are natural decongestants. The chemicals contained in these traditional drinks helps to unclog your sinuses and soothe your nasal passages.
The antioxidant quality of all these traditional hot drinks helps neutralise the toxins produced by the runny nose and cough and reduce the triggering effects of pollution and dust particles. Also, consumption of the traditional hot drinks instantly soothes your irritated throat.
The decoction generates heat in the body that opens up the sinuses. As a result, mucus is released and can be expelled out of the body.
Wrap your nose and mouth with a scarf when outdoors. This will force you to breathe through the scarf, This will create a warm space between your face and the scarf. When you breathe in this warmed air, moisture will not form and this will prevent a runny nose.
Wear a sock and cap which will keep your feet and head away from cold respectively.
The compound cineole present in the Eucalyptus oil helps to promote sweating and clear mucus. Eucalyptus oil when inhaled reduces the muscle spasm that narrow your airway, making it easy for you to breathe. The oil is a gentle expectorant which promotes drainage of the congested sinuses.
You can also rub the eucalyptus oil under your nostril and over your sinuses. The pungent smell of the eucalyptus oil decongests your nose and reduces the runny nose.
Vitamin D helps to stimulate naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides. The antimicrobial peptides help to protect you from invading microbes and protects the cell linings of the upper and lower respiratory tract. This process helps to fight off the viruses and bacteria that cause respiratory infections like a cold and runny nose. Hence spend reasonable time in sunlight and get your daily dose of vitamin D.
Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C. The strong antioxidant lycopene present in the tomatoes helps your lymphatic system and boosts your immunity against respiratory disorders.
Raw citrus fruits such as oranges and lemon have a high concentration of vitamin C and flavonoids, both of which increases your body’s white blood cells and immunity against respiratory disorders.
Rest gives your body a break from doing anything else besides recovering. While you are resting, all your energy is focused on fighting the virus, which makes your recovery faster.
- Wash your hands with a handwash so that you do not spread the infections to others. Chances are there that you may reinfect yourself when you are recovering if you are not careful
- Dispose of the tissues and handkerchief which you have used to blow your nose. This will prevent spreading the infection to others.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a dust mask in a dusty environment.
- Frequently air out your room and expose your bedding to bright sunshine.
- Avoid junk food.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
- Place a cool-mist humidifier at the bedside that can combat congestion worsened by the dry, winter air.
- Avoid pets like cats and dogs if you are sensitive to animal dander.
- Take a bath when you come home from a polluted environment. This will drain off the allergens settled in your body.