Although annoying at best, a runny nose and sneezing are the body's natural infection-fighting mechanisms. Mucus within the nose naturally humidifies the air and moistens the membranes and traps foreign matters. Causes for increased mucus production include the common cold, flu, allergies, sinusitis and cold temperatures. Having a runny nose can irritate the mucus membrane and create a sneeze in an attempt to clear the nasal passages. In addition, the body's release of histamine, a chemical found in the body's cells, causes allergic-like symptoms including runny nose and sneezing. As an alternative to over-the-counter medications, you can use home remedies to relieve runny nose and sneezing. As always, consult with your physician before trying any new remedy.
Salt Water Solution Irrigation
Irrigate nostrils with a salt water solution. Dissolve 1/2 tsp. of table salt in 8 oz. of warm water. Draw the solution into an eyedropper, and insert the solution into one nostril at a time with your head tilted back. Breathe the solution into the nostril. When finished, blow your nose to remove excess mucus and solution. You may need to do this a few times before you feel relief.
Using a neti pot is an old Ayurvedic technique used to irrigate the nasal passages and to relieve a runny nose and sneezing. The word "neti" is sanskrit (ancient Indian language) for nasal. A neti pot typically has a spout on one end and a handle on the opposite end. According to Mayo Clinic asthma and allergy specialist, James T. Li, M.D., fill the neti pot with warm salt water or an over-the-counter saline nasal solution. Then tilt your head over the sink and place the spout of the neti pot in the upper nostril. The salt water will flow through your nasal cavity and out the lower nostril.
Oil of Oregano
Oil of oregano has antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory properties vital in fighting sinusitis. The natural oil extracted from wild oregano plants has two key ingredients that are essential in strengthening the immune system: carvacrol and thymol. To relieve sinus congestion and runny nose, mix two to three drops of oil with juice and drink it daily until the symptoms subside.
With a towel draped overhead, breathe in steam from a pot of boiling water containing drops of eucalyptus or thyme oil that have antibacterial properties. This technique clears out excess mucus that causes runny nose and sneezing. Be careful not to burn yourself from the splashing boiling water. Turn the heat down just enough to keep the steam.
Monitoring what you consume can help to alleviate runny nose and sneezing. Drink plenty of water to thin the nasal mucus. Avoid milk, wheat and saturated fats, which tend to produce more mucus and inflammation. According to Jeffrey Tulin-Silver, M.D. and Suchetha Kinhal, M.D., board certified adult & pediatric allergy, asthma and immunology, avoid foods that have histamines including cheese, yogurt, dried fruits, processed meats, spinach, tomatoes and bread with a high amount of yeast. Instead, include foods that are high in vitamin C and E such as oranges and almonds. These foods are powerful antioxidants against free radicals that cause runny nose and sneezing.