Runny nose or watery nose is a common condition that everyone has experienced at least once in a lifetime. Some may experience it quite frequently if suffering with weak immune system. Runny nose occurs, when there is an excessive mucous production in the nose and the watery mucous is discharged either through the nostrils or drips down the throat. Most common cause of runny nose is common cold or flu, few people may suffer with runny nose caused by pollen or dust allergies.
Can Cold Medicines Help Treat Runny Nose?
If the cause of the runny nose is cold or flu then medications that are effective to treat symptoms of cold and flu can be useful to get relief from symptoms. In most cases, the medicines that are taken for common cough and cold or flu, can be availed without a prescription. The medications frequently used to treat common cold are anti-inflammatory medications, nasal drops, nasal saline irrigation1 and antihistamines. Anti-inflammatory medication helps to decrease nasal inflammation and secretion. Anti-inflammatory medications taken to treat symptoms of runny nose are Tylenol or Advil syrup. Antihistamines are prepared as a tablets, syrup or drops. Anti-histamines are effective to reduce nasal secretion by reducing effects of histamine over the nasal mucosa. Antihistamines are medicines that can suppress the histamine production. Histamines are chemicals that the body makes, when you have cold or flu. Histamine makes the mucosal tissue of nose to swell and itch. Nasal mucosal swelling and continuous mucosal secretion causes frequent sneezing while suffering with cold or flu.
Can Cold Medicines Help Treat Runny Nose?
Runny nose is caused by either allergies or cold (flu). The allergies to pollen or dust often causes frequent runny nose. If runny nose is caused by allergies then anti-histaminic medications helps to reduce nasal secretion and symptoms. If the cause of the runny nose is cold or flu (viral infection) then the medications that are prescribed for cold and flu can be useful to get relief. In most cases, the medicines that are taken for common cough and cold or flu are anti-inflammatory medication and anti-histaminic syrup. Anti-inflammatory medication should not be consumed for prolonged period. In few cases, anti-inflammatory medication like Aspirin and Advil if taken for prolonged period may exaggerate symptoms of nasal discharge and nasal block.2 Antihistamines are routinely prescribed to treat runny nose.3 Antihistamine medicines suppress the histamine production. Histamines are chemicals that the body makes, when you have cold or flu. Histamine makes the nose tissue swell and itch. That is why you sneeze so much, when you have cold or flu.
There are different types of antihistamines that are given for common cold and flu. The older antihistamines like brompheniramine or chlorpheniramine are considered to be quite useful to treat runny nose. They can reduce the itchiness and swelling by reducing the production of histamine that are responsible for these symptoms. However, prolonged usage of these medicines have their side effects and hence, they must be taken as per the dosage recommended by a doctor.
The newer antihistamines, on the other hand, are useful to treat runny nose caused by allergic reaction. The antihistamines that are suitable to treat runny nose caused by an allergic reaction are fexofenadine and loratidine. These anti-histaminic are also used to treat runny nose caused by hay fever or other breathing illnesses. Children less than 10 years are treated with nasal saline drops and older children are treated with decongestant nasal drops. Most decongestant medications are sold without prescription. Nasal decongestant can cause several side effects and should be prescribed and effects must be supervised by physician to avoid complications and side effects.4
Best Medicines for Sneezing & Runny Nose
If you have a cold or flu resulting in a runny nose that is not responding to anti-inflammatory medications and associated with other symptoms such as sneezing, sniffling or watery eyes then antihistamines are most effective in relieving the symptoms of runny nose. The common medicines (antihistamines) that are useful to treat sneezing and runny nose are –
- Brompheniramine (Robitussin Cold & Allergy, Dimetapp Cold and Allergy Elixir)
- Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine)
- Chlorpheniramine (Singlet)
- Doxylamine (Alka-Seltzer Plus Night Time Cold Medicine, NyQuil)
- Diphenhydramine (Nytol, Benadryl).
However, many of the anti-histaminic medicines may not be effective in relieving symptoms of runny nose and frequent use for prolonged period is not safe for children who are younger than 6 years. Hence, the antihistamines must be prescribed under the supervision of pediatrician or family medicine specialist and may not be given more than 2 to 5 days. In fact, some antihistamines are not safe even for children younger than 12 years. Therefore, it is a must that you ask a doctor about which medicine would be best to treat cold or flu in children or if the medicine is suitable for treating sneezing and runny nose caused by cold or flu.
- Q and A on Runny Nose or Rhinorrhea: Is It Allergy? Causes of Nasal Congestion, Stuffiness
- Snotty Nose in Infants, Children & Adults and its Home Remedies
- How Long Does Post-Nasal Drip Last & Ways to Get Rid of it?
Nasal Irrigation: An Imprecisely Defined Medical Procedure.
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