How Do I Stop Sneezing and a Runny Nose?

Medically Reviewed on 1/4/2021

When you have a cold, certain chemicals (histamines) are secreted by your body
When you have a cold, certain chemicals (histamines) are secreted by your body

When you have a cold, certain chemicals (histamines) are secreted by your body; these may lead to sneezing, a runny nose, and watery eyes. Here are some remedies to stop your sneezing and runny nose:

  • Clear the nose: Gently blowing your nose is the best way to clear all the nasal secretions. Sniffing may also relieve your symptoms. You may use a soft rubber suction bulb to gently remove any secretions from a baby’s nose. Facial tissues with added lotions may also prevent and heal sore skin around the nose. Applying petroleum jelly on the outer sides of the nostrils relieves irritation caused by constant blowing.
  • Bed rest: Keep yourself as comfortable as possible and rest while your body fights the cold virus.
  • Plenty of fluids: Drink plenty of water, warm chicken soups, herbal tea, and juices to fight dehydration (fluid loss) caused during cold and fever.
  • Humidifier: A cool-mist humidifier may help loosen the phlegm in the nose and airways.
  • Hot water steam: It may relieve your nasal and sinus congestion.
  • Mentholated salve: Mentholated salve around your nose may resolve your discomfort.
  • Saline water sprays: Rinsing your nasal passages regularly with a saltwater solution may keep your nose free of irritants. You can try a neti pot to ease the process. It can help with your runny nose. You also can try saline nasal sprays or rinses.
  • Over the counter (OTC) medications: OTC medicine may not cure your cold, but they might relieve your running nose and make you feel better. Always check for side effects and follow the instructions while taking them. Additionally, make sure they don’t negatively interact with your other medications by consulting your doctor.
    • Decongestant syrups or pills containing phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine may control swelling inside your nose and sinuses and make you breathe more easily. However, avoid taking both types of decongestant at the same time.
    • Non-sedating antihistamines such as chlorpheniramine and diphenhydramine may help you to relieve mild symptoms of flu.
    • Nasal sprays containing oxymetazoline and phenylephrine may work faster than pills or syrups. However, avoid using them for more than 2-3 days in a row because it may worsen your congestion.
    • Nasal strips may also help you to breathe easier because it enlarges the nasal passages. A nasal spray containing a steroid, such as Rhinocort (budesonide), Flonase (fluticasone), or Nasacort (triamcinolone) may help you with persistent, severe inflammation. However, consult your doctor and follow the label instructions properly.
    • Cough suppressants such as dextromethorphan may provide you relief from your cough for a short time.
    • Expectorants such as guaifenesin may thin the mucus in your airways and lessen the congestion in your chest. Drink plenty of water while taking this medicine.
    • Fever relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may lower your fever and pain if you have flu-like symptoms.
  • Natural remedies such as Echinacea or supplements such as vitamin C and zinc are good for a cold. They may shorten the length of an illness. However, they do not cure a cold. Consult your doctor to make sure they will not interact with the other medicines that you are taking.
  • Avoid common irritants such as cigarette smoke, sudden humidity changes, and allergic triggers as much as possible.

What are the causes of sneezing and a runny nose?

Causes of a runny nose and sneezing include:

When to see a doctor?

A runny nose and sneezing usually clear up on their own. Occasionally, it can be a sign of a more serious problem. See your doctor if you have

  • Symptoms that lasted for more than 10 days.
  • High fever.
  • Yellow and green nasal discharge along with sinus pain or fever.
  • Blood in your nasal discharge.
  • Persistent clear discharge after a head injury.

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Medically Reviewed on 1/4/2021
References
WebMD. A Guide to Cold Medicine for Adults. https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-medicines-adults#1

American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Runny Nose, Stuffy Nose, Sneezing.