Even though itís usually not a major problem, having a runny nose can still be very annoying! You might get a runny nose due to allergies, chilly weather, the common cold, or other conditions. Depending on the cause of your runny nose, there are numerous preventative measures you can try, including medications and lifestyle changes. With luck, youíll be able to stop grabbing tissues all the time!

[Edit]Using General Prevention Strategies

  1. Take simple measures to cut your chances of catching a cold. Not all runny noses are caused by the common cold, but having a cold nearly guarantees that youíll be dealing with a runny nose. You canít eliminate your risk of getting a cold, but you can improve your odds by taking steps like the following:[1]

    • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
    • Use hand sanitizer when youíre unable to wash your hands.
    • Donít touch your eyes, mouth, or nose if you havenít cleaned your hands first.
    • Avoid close contact with people who have cold symptoms.
    • Regularly disinfect surfaces like doorknobs and light switches.

  2. Cover your face with a scarf when youíre out in the cold. The scarf will trap some of your body warmth and the warmth of the air when you exhale. This, in turn, will help to warm the incoming air before you breathe it in. Additionally, some of the moisture from the air you exhale will be trapped in the scarf. Breathing in air thatís warmer and moister will prevent your sinuses from producing as much moisture.[2]

    • Your nose runs when youíre in the cold because excess fluid is created when your nasal passages work to warm the incoming air.[3]

  3. Use a humidifier when the air indoors is dry. Both outdoor and indoor air tend to be very dry during cold weather, and your sinuses may respond to the dry air by producing excess moisture. So, even if itís not cold when youíre indoors, you may still get a runny nose unless you run a humidifier.[4]

    • Make sure to clean your humidifier regularly as directed. Otherwise, bacteria and mold may build up in the water reservoir.

  4. Moisten your nasal passages with a saline nasal spray. Your sinuses naturally produce moisture when your nasal passages are dry, and may cause a runny nose by over-producing the moisture. Lubricating your nasal passages with saline can help slow down or stop this moisture production process.[5]

    • Follow the package instructions when using a saline nasal spray. Theyíre generally safe to use 3-4 times per day for up to 5 days. Talk to your doctor, if necessary, about using saline more frequently or for a longer period.

  5. Hydrate your nasal passages by drinking lots of water. This works on the same principle as using a saline nasal spray. By hydrating your nasal passages by other means, you can prevent your sinuses from over-producing moisture to deal with dry nasal passages.[6]

    • Try drinking a glass of water when you wake up, when you go to bed, and before each meal, and take sips regularly throughout the day. Donít wait until youíre thirsty to have a drink.

  6. Try a decongestant nasal spray or pill containing pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine constricts the blood vessels in your sinuses, which reduces the production of moisture. While it can be an effective short-term measure, it also carries risks for side effects and drug interactions, and therefore isnít a good option for everyone.[7]

    • For instance, people who have high blood pressure or take MAO inhibitors should not use medications containing pseudoephedrine.
    • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about taking pseudoephedrine if you have any concerns.
    • Use the medication exactly as directed, for no more than 7 days (unless otherwise advised by your doctor).
    • Your runny nose may actually get worse than before as the medication wears off.

  7. Maintain a healthy immune system to prevent getting sick. Staying healthy helps your body fight against bacteria and infection that cause runny noses.Adjust your diet to cut out processed foods so you can have healthier options rich in vitamins and minerals. If you donít get enough vitamins or minerals in your diet, you can take supplements to increase your levels.
  8. Talk to your doctor about using a prescription nasal spray. If OTC decongestant options arenít working for you, your doctor may be able to prescribe a corticosteroid nasal spray. If so, use the spray exactly as prescribed.[8]

    • Let your doctor know about any other medications youíre taking, as well as any medical conditions you have. Prescription nasal sprays arenít right for everyone.
    • Corticosteroid nasal sprays do not provide immediate relief. It can take up to 2 weeks for them to take effect. Therefore, theyíre often best used as a long-term option.

[Edit]Taking Allergy-Specific Measures

  1. Visit your doctor so you can pinpoint your allergens. Your doctor can run allergy tests to help identify the specific allergens that cause your runny nose and other symptoms. Once youíve determined your allergens, you can take more effective measures to avoid or counteract them.[9]

    • Allergy testing can involve skin tests, blood tests, or both. With skin tests, small amounts of common allergens are applied to your skin to test for a reaction. Blood testing provides less immediate results, but can be more effective at identifying some allergens.

  2. Limit your exposure to the allergens youíve identified. Using an air purifier in your home can help remove irritants from the air, but avoiding your trigger allergens altogether is also important. For instance, if cigarette smoke is an irritant for you, steer clear of situations where youíll encounter it.[10]

    • Some allergens are nearly impossible to completely avoid. Ragweed pollen, for example, is very prevalent in the U.S. Use weather and/or air quality reports to determine when and where ragweed pollen concentrations are highest.
    • Pollen counts tend to be higher early in the morning, so stay indoors and keep your windows closed in the morning if pollen is a trigger for you.
    • If dust mites are a trigger, reduce the amount of carpeting, blankets, and other dust-collecting fabrics in your home, clean often using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, and run an air purifier.

  3. Dust your home regularly to get rid of common irritants. Dust in your home can create irritation that causes your nose to run. Take time once a week to dust the surfaces all of the surfaces in your home, such as tables, shelves, ceiling fans, and desks. Focus on cleaning your bedroom thoroughly since dust in your bed could cause allergic reactions. If you want to get dust out of carpet, then vacuum it as well as you can.[11]

    • Change your bed sheets once every 1-2 weeks to prevent dust from building up in them.
    • Make your bed and cover your pillows during the day so dust doesnít settle on your sheets.
    • You can reduce the amount of airborne dust in your bedroom with a HEPA air filter.

  4. Wear a pollen-blocking mask when you canít avoid allergens. If you have pollen allergies and need to mow the lawn or simply go for a morning walk, wearing a mask can prevent the allergens from entering your mouth or nose. A scarf may help a little, and a surgical mask is a better choice. For the best results, though, use a respirator mask with an N95 or higher rating (in the U.S.).[12]

    • Allergen masks are widely available online.

  5. Take antihistamines as recommended by your doctor. These medications reduce your bodyís production of histamine in response to allergens, which in turn will reduce your symptoms, such as a runny nose. Over-the-counter (OTC) options include Benadryl, Allegra, Zyrtec, and Claritin, among many others, but itís best to consult your doctor before choosing an OTC antihistamine.[13]

    • Your doctor may instead recommend a prescription-strength antihistamine. As with OTC antihistamines, take the medication exactly as directed.
    • Antihistamine side effects can include abdominal pain, constipation, dry eyes/mouth, drowsiness, and headache, among other possibilities. Discuss the potential for side effects with your doctor.
    • In some cases, your doctor may determine that allergy shots are your best course of action. These injections are meant to slowly acclimate your body to particular allergens.[14]

  6. Give natural antihistamines a try. These home remedies typically have little to no scientific backing, but theyíre also usually harmless to try. Consider options like the following:[15]

    • Foods with supposed antihistamine properties. These include (but may not be limited to) citrus fruits, berries, cantaloupes, kiwi fruits, apples, pineapples, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, red and yellow onions, cauliflower, yogurt, kefir, green tea, and black tea.
    • Turmeric. Heat a mixture of turmeric powder and linseed oil on the stove until it starts lightly smoking, then gently inhale a small amount of the smoke.
    • Ginger. Try steeping of fresh sliced ginger in of hot water, and drinking it while itís warm.[16]
    • Mustard oil. Heat a dollop of mustard in a pan with some water until it simmers, then gently inhale a small amount of the vapor.

[Edit]Addressing a Chronic Runny Nose

  1. See your doctor to determine the cause of your chronic runny nose. Allergies arenít the only condition that can cause a chronic runny nose. Instead of (or in addition to) allergies, your doctor may be able to diagnose a condition such as the following:[17]

    • Nonallergic rhinitis.
    • A deviated septum.
    • Chronic sinusitis.
    • Nasal polyps or tumors.
    • A foreign object lodged in the nasal cavity.
    • A cerebrospinal fluid leakóa rare, serious condition in which some of the fluid surrounding your brain is leaking through your nasal passage.

  2. Discuss surgical options with your doctor as needed. If you have a nasal tumor or polyps, a foreign object lodged in your nasal cavity, or a deviated septum, surgical intervention may be your best alternative. Youíll definitely need surgery if you have a cerebrospinal fluid leak, although this is a very rare condition.[18]

    • If you have allergic or nonallergic rhinitis that wonít respond to other treatments, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure that severs some of the nerves in your nose that trigger fluid production.
    • Discuss the potential risks and benefits of any surgical procedure before deciding if itís right for you.

  3. Use nonallergic rhinitis treatments as advised. If your chronic runny nose isnít caused mainly by allergies, then nonallergic rhinitis is the most likely cause. If this is your diagnosis, discuss treatment strategies with your doctor. In addition to common runny nose remedies, these may include:[19]

    • Prescription anticholinergic nasal spray.
    • Intranasal cryotherapy, which essentially freezes some of the nasal nerves that trigger fluid production.