What is a runny nose?
Updated: February 2020
You are sneezing, your nose is running, and your handkerchiefs just can’t keep up with you – most of us know this feeling only too well. The runny nose is not an illness itself, but is a symptom of an acute cold. This type of cold usually is accompanied by severe sneezing, headache and itching of the nose.
What are the causes of a runny nose?
The causes of a runny nose can be varied. Most runny noses can be traced back to an infection or an allergy.
A runny nose is a typical side effect of flu-like infections and colds. A runny nose is the body’s own defence mechanism which aims to remove viruses and bacteria from the body.
An allergy-related runny nose is an overreaction to certain stimuli. It often occurs with pollen and dust allergies.
In many cases, a runny nose can be attributed neither to an infection nor to an allergy. It also may be due to non-specific stimuli. Other possible factors are very spicy or hot foods, mental health issues, stress and hormonal changes.
What provides relief from a blocked/runny nose?
If the runny nose is associated with a cold, rest is the best course of action. Inhalation of essential oils may provide relief as it helps the mucous to drain better. A cold usually will be gone after one to two weeks, and with it the blocked/runny nose.
In the case of a runny nose associated with an allergy, it is essential to avoid the causative stimuli. Tablets or nasal sprays may be prescribed which suppress the allergic reaction using the corresponding active substances (antihistamines).
In very severe cases, medications containing cortisone also may be used. These have a decongestant and anti-inflammatory effect but only should be used for a short period of time.