How to fix your constant runny nose – 3 powerful yet easy steps
Do you have a constant running nose and want to find out what is causing it? Or to stop your nose from running?!
I’m here to give you the answers… and some hope:
You don’t have to live with a constant runny nose any longer!
I cover 3 powerful yet easy runny nose remedies and will show you how to stop your nose from running once and for all!
It’s not polite to generalize about any group of people but if I were to make a general statement about people with constant running noses, it would be this:
You are an amazing person with an abundance of patience and tolerance…
and I want to help you RIGHT NOW
Personally, I can deal with a runny nose for about one day… maybe two. Then I snap. I’ll buy every over-the-counter runny nose medicine and will do anything to stop my nose from running! I am a complete baby for tolerating a constant runny nose.
But you somehow can deal with your constant running nose and not want to murder people!
I’m impressed… and I want to help.
Today’s article will do just that. I’ll go through some of what causes a runny nose and then go through my top 3 runny nose remedies and medications top stop your chronic running nose once and for all!
Who should read this article?
You should read my “3 Runny Nose Remedies to FIX your Constant Runny Nose!” article if:
- You have a constant running nose and want to fix it!
- If your nose is dripping water/clear fluid, I can help
- If you want to know the best running nose medicine… I’ll cover that in depth
- If you KNOW someone who has a constant runny nose, please share this with them
Note: I’ve written this article to help adults with their constant runny nose. I have limited my runny nose causes and treatments to adults. I will write an article for kids with chronic running nose problems at a future date (although you can always request that article sooner if you want).
Overview of today’s article
- The curse of a constant runny nose
- If it’s easy to stop a nose from running, why do can’t most doctors fix it?
- What causes a constant running nose?
- How to stop your nose from running!
- Will my constant runny nose ever come back?
The Curse of a Constant Runny Nose
Before I start with what causes a runny nose, I want to let you know I see many people each day with the curse of a constant running nose.
And my guess is that if you’ve read this far, you’ve probably tolerated it (often for years):
- You keep tissues in your pocket at all times
- You subconsciously check for clear fluid from your nose throughout the day
- You might try to avoid spicy foods, cold weather or even going outside
- You might even stay away from people (especially in the colder months) to avoid anyone noticing your runny nose
And you have also felt the embarrassment of having someone tell you that your nose is dripping water or people treating you like you’re constantly sick.
So before I do anything else, let me give you some reassurances and validate what you’ve been dealing with:
- You should NOT feel embarrassed:
- About 10% of the population has a constant runny nose (due to allergies, irritants, or other causes)
- I saw 2 people this week asking how to stop their nose from running!
- I can tell you that there is NOTHING you are doing to cause your runny nose
- And, I can tell you with confidence, I can fix your chronic runny nose!
If it’s easy to stop a nose from running, why do can’t most doctors fix it?
Man, I’m asking myself the hard questions in this post right off the bat! But it’s a good question (**pats self on back**)
I’m willing to bet that when you first noticed you nose was constantly running and dripping clear fluid, you probably went to your medical provider. Most people do (although many more just adapt and live with it).
If you asked your doctor to stop your nose from running, I will guess they did one of these things:
- Maybe they thought it was an infection… and perhaps gave you antibiotics and some running nose medicine. But when it didn’t help, they told you ‘it’s not an infection’ then stopped trying to fix it.
- Or maybe they then said your allergies caused your chronic runny nose
- You might have thought “that’s strange, I never had allergies before” but went with it.
- Then they gave you the best over-the-counter antihistamines or diphenhydramine (Benadryl)… which might have helped a little but wasn’t a great runny nose remedy.
- Then they shrugged their shoulders and said ‘well, it’s not allergies’ then stopped trying
- Of course, at this point you stopped asking the doctor for help. After all, how many times do you need to spend $50 copay just to have then not help you!
- Most people stop here and just accept that they have a constant runny nose.
- But some people search online for runny nose remedies (and maybe that’s how you found me.)
If this was your experience trying to fix your constant runny nose… it is common. And it is unfortunate because there is SO MUCH I can do to fix your constant runny nose!
Most people with a chronic runny nose don’t see me to help them stop their nose from running. I see them for an unrelated issue.
Sometimes I notice the tissues and ask them on the side “does their nose keep running?” And sometimes when I ask if there is anything else I can do they toss out there “not unless you can fix my constant runny nose.”
I tell them I CAN help and in 5 extra minutes, give them a solution to a problem that has plagued them for years!
Today I’m sharing that solution with you!
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What causes a constant running nose?
There is a small group of causes of running nose symptoms. I’ll go through the more common runny nose causes but, if you have questions, I want to let you know you can always contact me for additional help (give me a day or two to respond but I’ll always get back to you)
Most causes of chronic running nose fall into these categories:
- Infection (cold, flu, acute sinus infections)
- Allergic rhinitis (seasonal or year round allergies)
- Irritant rhinitis
- Vasomotor rhinitis
- Brain fluid leaking from your nose (this isn’t click bait. It happens… but very, very rare)
Infectious causes of running noses
Infections cause a runny nose in the majority of people.
Now, this makes sense. Think about your last cold or flu: of course you had a runny nose!
If a cold or infection is causing your runny nose, then you know you have an infection and want it to go away. It is also not a mystery that the cold is causing your running nose symptoms.
If you got to this article because a cold or infection is causing your runny nose, then I would advise you stop reading this article (which is more for people with a chronic runny nose) and instead check out these two VERY helpful posts:
- How to treat a sinus infection – the RIGHT way!
- Cold vs Flu: Do you know the difference?
- (Coming Soon)—Expert tips and tricks to fix a common cold (you can request an early copy of the article here)
Allergic Rhinitis (seasonal allergies, pet allergies, or year round perennial allergies)
Allergies also cause a runny nose. But you know if you have allergies and whether your chronic running nose is similar to your allergy symptoms.
Typically, when allergy causes a running nose, it follows this pattern:
- You should have a history of allergies at a certain time of year or around pets
- Your constant runny nose would happen during that time of year or you have been around pets
- Often you also have ITCHING with your chronic runny nose
- If your nose is dripping like water but you don’t have itching, then it is less likely allergies
- A runny nose due to allergies should only happen when you’re exposed to the season or trigger. Having summer allergies but a constant running nose in winter means it is NOT due to allergies.
- If you have runny nose due to allergies, you often have itchy/watery eyes too
I would guess that if you searched for “what causes runny nose” you’ve read a lot about allergies and I’m guessing that this doesn’t apply to you either. But if you think you may have allergies, I recommend you shift your reading away from the rest of this article and instead read these (which will help you a lot more):
General allergy posts
- Do you know what really causes allergies?
- 5 best allergic rhinitis home remedies
- Allergy vs Sinus Infection vs Cold
Seasonal allergy posts
Dog and cat allergy posts
- Are you treating your dog allergies the best way?
- Hypoallergenic dog breeds – fact or fiction?
- How to get rid of cat allergies — without getting rid of your cat!
Irritant Rhinitis (this is a likely cause of your constant runny nose)
Ok, if you’re still reading then you have already gone past the ideas of having a cold/infection and have decided it is unlikely allergies. Again, you are the main target of this article.
And now is my time to give you some GREAT help!
One of the most common causes of your chronic running nose is a diagnosis called irritant rhinitis.
In this cause, your nose drips but isn’t itchy. Do any of these sound like what causes your runny nose?
- If you’re around someone with strong perfume (or walk past a teenage boy with a metric ton of Axe body spray or cologne) and you get a runny nose?
- If you’re around strong smells or odors, does it trigger your nose running?
- If you walk outside on a windy day and dust blows through your nose… is that a trigger?
- Or does dusting your house cause your constant running nose symptoms?
If any of these are yes, then you have an irritant rhinitis.
Think of it this way: these irritants bother the lining of your nose causing it to become runny as a protective mechanism. Your nose is trying to wash away the irritants (unfortunately, it doesn’t do a great job at it so your nose just keeps running!)
- If this sounds like what is causing your running nose, then jump ahead to the treatment section because I can help you fix this problem.
- If it kind-of sounds like you but you’re not sure, check out this post on the 11 most common causes of allergies (including irritant rhinitis) and read a little further.
Vasomotor Rhinitis (this is most likely what causes your runny nose)
In many of my articles I combine irritant rhinitis and vasomotor rhinitis (since they are treated the same, as I discuss below). But in your case, I want this to be a distinct category.
What causes a runny nose in most people?
Vasomotor Rhinitis is the #1 cause of runny nose in my clinic!
In vasomotor rhinitis, the nerve endings in your nose are extra-sensitive which causes your nose to run as a result! It has nothing to do with you or what you’re doing… it is a part of your body. Your nose has a lot of nerve endings in it (which is how you smell delicious food… and that teenage boy’s cologne in the prior example). These nerve endings are protected by your nose skin as they should be.
But as we age, many of our nasal mucosa and nose skin gets thinner on the inside… which can make these nerve endings hyperactive and more easily triggered!
With vasomotor rhinitis, the same causes as irritant rhinitis can trigger your chronic runny nose:
- Strong smells, odors, scents or perfumes
- Walking outside on dusty days or dusting the house
But other, non-irritant causes can ALSO trigger your nose to run:
- Temperature changes can cause your constant runny nose
- Subtle smells (like older books, which you may think is due to mold but isn’t)
- Dry air (in winter, desert climates or in Colorado) makes your nose keep running
- Cold air (from winter or from air conditioning) might cause your nose to keep running
- Blowing wind, ceiling fans, or that rush of air when you walk into some buildings can be enough to trigger your nose
- Eating spicy foods… can cause a constant runny nose
Do any of these sound like you?
My hope is I just described your runny nose symptoms and you’re smiling a little that somebody FINALLY has given you an answer.
Now jump ahead to the treatment section and start to feel better!
Could your constantly runny nose clear liquid actually be brain fluid?!?
This is not a common cause, so most of you don’t have to worry.
But if you never had a runny nose in the past… then had sinus surgery or other nose surgery… and since then your nose has been running all the time… then maybe you should see your surgeon or primary care to make sure it isn’t brain fluid.
I won’t cover this any more here, but read this (sensationalized) story if you want a small shocking read for the day about brain fluid causing a chronic runny nose!
How to stop your nose from running!
Finally! Your journey is almost done. You began by reading this article which promised a solution… and were skeptical. You then read through what causes a runny nose and found that, maybe, I knew what I was talking about. You got excited.
And now… I will tell you how to stop your nose from running!
But first, an overview
You need to know fixing your constantly runny nose is a balance act between symptoms and medications. By this I mean:
- I can almost completely fix your runny nose with 2 to 3 nose sprays
- I can get you 80-90% better using 1 or 2 nose sprays
- I can get you short term, immediate relief as well using 1 nose spray
What your job will be is to evaluate how much you want you to control your symptoms against the inconvenience of using nose sprays. You must find your personal balance between your chronic runny nose and the number of running nose medicines you want to take.
So let me give you the plan on how to stop your nose from constantly running!
STEP 1: Immediate Relief Medication
If your constant runny nose comes and goes, or is only “set off” by certain triggers (pure irritant rhinitis) then you might not need a running nose medication EVERY DAY.
Instead, you might need an “as needed” runny nose relief medication and only use it when it is necessary.
This “as needed” approach is what I’d recommend for you if you:
- Only get a runny nose sometimes
- Such as ONLY when walking in cold weather
- ONLY when eating certain foods
- ONLY when exposed to certain smells or other identified triggers
- Your nose drips only during the change in seasons
- Such as summer to fall
- Or winter to spring
- And your nose is normal other times
- Only when you exercise (I’m writing a separate article on exercise induced rhinitis soon)
If these sound like you, then you’re lucky. You can do well with the RIGHT running nose medicine given ONLY during these times.
The medication you need is a prescription, but is fairly inexpensive and works very well. There is no good alternative for quick runny nose relief. Ask your medical provider to give you either of these:
- Nasal Atrovent (ipratroprium bromide) nasal spray 0.06%
- Take 2 sprays each nostril as needed for runny/dripping nos
- Use up to 2-3 times per day
- Atrovent (ipratroprium bromide) nasal spray 0.03%
- Take 2 sprays each nostril as needed for runny/dripping nose
- Use up to 2-3 times per day
- Note: this is a lower strength, so ask for the 0.06% if it is available
This medication works quickly (within an hour) and will last all day for some people, although most people get 8 to 12 hours of runny nose relief.
The benefit is that this medication is NOT addictive (like afrin, which causes rhinitis medicamentosa) and can safely use it for a long time without problems. It also does not interact with any other medication.
STEP 2: Constant Control Medication
An immediate relief medication approach is great for many people. But not everyone.
The majority of people’s nose keeps running all the time (or during entire seasons) so a quick runny nose relief is not practical.
If this describes YOUR constant runny nose symptoms, then you need to ADD a controller runny nose medication. Here’s what I recommend:
- Start a nasal steroid such as Flonase (fluticasone) or Nasonex (mometasone)
- First, read about choosing Flonase vs Nasonex: what is the best nasal steroid medication
- These medications are available over the counter, so you can start it today!
- Remember, generic is just as good as name brand so get the cheapest one they have!
- Your dose would be EITHER:
- 2 sprays each nostril once a day OR
- 1 spray each nostril twice a day
- When you start, know a nasal steroid takes 4-6 weeks to reach full strength.
- So please, start it and stick with it for at least a month!
- It takes time to work. This is your controller medication and not your quick runny nose relief!
- There are no prescription nasal steroids that are any better than the over-the-counter ones
Need extra immediate relief?
If you use the nasal steroid as your main running nose medication, you can control a good portion of your time. For some of you, this will give you 90-100% improvement. For some of you, a nasal steroid controls your every day symptoms but now you notice there are specific times or circumstances that restart your runny nose.
Here, you would want to ADD the nasal atrovent (ipratroprium bromide) that I mentioned above as an extra, quick runny nose relief medication!
You can also the nasal atrovent as an extra “short time prevention” medication so you can ensure you nose won’t become runny during meetings (especially in cold conference rooms), during special events or during Taco Tuesday!
The good news is that the nasal steroids, like the nasal atrovent (ipratroprium bromide) are NOT addictive, do NOT cross react with each or OR with any other medication. They’re safe to add on top of each other and each serves a specific purpose!
STEP 3: The Nuclear Option
OK, so what if you picked the best nasal steroid, used it for 6 weeks like I suggested and now report you have a solid 60% improvement (I treated you to a D-…. which is practically failing).
This is NOT good enough. And it shouldn’t be for you either.
So if you aren’t happy with the benefit from the nasal steroid, we need to increase you to the next step: nasal steroid + nasal antihistamines.
Your runny nose remedy would be:
- Start a nasal steroid such as Flonase (fluticasone) or Nasonex (mometasone)
- Your dose will still be 2 sprays each nostril once a day
- OR 1 spray each nostril twice a day to control your runny nose
- Then ADD Azelastine 0.1% or 0.15% nasal antihistamine spray
- This is a prescription so you must ask your provider
- The dose is usually 1-2 sprays each nostril TWICE a day
- Note: there is a prescription nose spray that combines both products called Dymista
- You can ask your provider to order Dymista 2 sprays each nostril twice a day
- This is not always covered by insurance, so check your copay and if it’s covered first
- Also, you can download the company’s copay assistance card here
Now, here’s the secret benefit of using both medications:
Nasal steroid + nasal antihistamine AMPLIFY each other. So they kind of make a 1+1=3 type of response (I love “alternative math.”)
Still need extra immediate relief?
Just like in Step 2 if you are taking both nasal steroids and nasal antihistamine medications you should see a HUGE improvement in your constant running nose symptoms. But what if this runny nose remedy isn’t enough? You can also add the quick runny nose relief medication,
As mentioned above, you’d add nasal atrovent (ipratroprium bromide) just like in the other sections.
And also just like the other sections, you can use this quick runny nose relief medication without fear of nose addiction or cross reactions.
The nasal steroid, nasal antihistamine and nasal atrovent do NOT cross react with each other and do NOT cross react with other medications.
Will my constant runny nose ever come back?
If I did my job, then you should feel MUCH better over the next 4-6 weeks (or faster if you got a prescription for the nasal atrovent).
This plan is great for stopping a runny nose!
And fixing a problem you’ve lived with for so long! It is OK to be excited and happy.
But you should know if you stop your runny nose medicine then your symptoms WILL come back. Yes, this is a bummer: you will likely need to take these medications for the rest of your life.
There is a silver lining: Often when I first see you with your chronic runny nose, you need a lot more medications to fix your symptoms. But over time, you can often reduce those medications in quantity and still feel better.
You will need runny nose medications for life.
So your goal is not to stop the medicines, but instead to reduce your medications as much as possible!
Here’s how I reduce your medications:
- First, if you can identify a seasonal pattern or trigger than you’ll only need running nose medications during those times
- If you only have a chronic runny nose ins the spring and fall, then I need to increase your medicines during that time and can reduce them at other times.
- I might not stop the medications, but finding a pattern can help me reduce your dose
- Second, you might reduce medications once you get them under better control.
- It’s best to start all my runny nose remedies FIRST to get control of your symptoms.
- But if you’ve been great for 1 or 2 months, then try to reduce your medicines one at a time.
- You might get by with a lower dose or frequency
- Finally, you might reduce OTHER medications after you control your chronic runny nose!
- If you had allergy medications or leukotriene medications (like montelukast) added to stop your nose from running, you might stop those!
- They usually aren’t helping much, anyway. So check if you can stop any tablets that were added to help your constant runny nose!
I know this was a long article. But I wanted this to be the ONE PLACE you could find your answers.
In the article, we first discussed the why a lot of doctors weren’t able to stop your nose from running… and a lot of it had to do with finding out what causes a runny nose.
We learned that what causes a runny nose for most people (colds/infections or allergies) are not what is causing your chronic runny nose. Since it has been so chronic, your cause is either an irritant rhinitis or a vasomotor rhinitis!
Finally, I discussed 3 steps you can take to stop your nose from running once and for all through:
- Adding a quick runny nose relief medication
- Then adding a daily nasal steroid to give you daily control of a harder to fix runny nose
- Then combining the nasal steroid with a nasal antihistamine for the terrible constant runny noses!
Hopefully, you enjoyed this article and feel confident will help you.
If so, consider sharing it with your friends and family (and help them feel better too!)
If you have questions, please send me an email and I’ll happily answer them for you!
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- Environmental assessment and exposure control: a practice parameter—furry animals (2012)
- Diagnosis and management of rhinosinusitis: a practice parameter update (2014)
- The diagnosis and management of sinusitis: a practice parameter update (2005)