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Cold and Flu Center

How to Clear a Runny Nose & Nasal Drip

author image James Patterson
James Patterson specializes in health and wellness topics, having written and produced material for the National Institutes of Health, the President's Cancer Panel and an Inc. 500 Hall of Fame company. He is also a former sportswriter with writing experience in basketball, baseball, softball, golf and other popular sports.
How to Clear a Runny Nose & Nasal Drip
A runny nose can be an irritating symptom of a cold or the flu.

A runny nose is usually just one symptom of an overall problem, such as a cold, allergies or exposure to any number of irritants. The blood vessels and nasal tissues in your nose produce excess mucus, which can either travel through your nostrils and out your nose or down the back of your throat as post-nasal drip. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to combat this condition and get back to feeling your best.

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Step 1

Take an over-the-counter antihistamine. This will help reduce the amount of mucus your body produces. Avoid taking it for more than three days in a row, according to Be cautious when operating a car or other heavy machinery, as antihistamines may cause drowsiness.

Step 2

Use a nasal spray. This will thin out the mucus in your nasal passages and make it easier to blow your nose and expel most of the excess mucus from your nose and throat.

Step 3

Drink fluids. Fluids such as water and fruit juices will help thin out the mucus in your system, making it easier to expel. You can also try using a humidifier or vaporizer in an enclosed room.

Step 4

Call your doctor. If you experience discharge through your nose or throat that is foul-smelling, one-sided, or an abnormal color such as green or red, see your primary care physician. Also call your doctor if you experience symptoms for more than three weeks for adults or 10 days for children. You may have a more serious condition that requires a prescription or even surgery.

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