When to see a doctor

By Mayo Clinic Staff

For adults – seek medical attention if:

  • Your symptoms last more than 10 days.
  • You have a high fever.
  • Your nasal discharge is yellow or green and you also have sinus pain or fever. This may be a sign of a bacterial infection.
  • You have blood in your nasal discharge or a persistent clear discharge after a head injury.

For children – seek medical attention if:

  • Your child is younger than 2 months and has a fever.
  • Your baby's runny nose or congestion causes trouble nursing or makes breathing difficult.


Until you see your doctor, try these simple steps to relieve symptoms:

  • Try sniffing and swallowing or gently blowing your nose.
  • Avoid known allergic triggers.
  • If your runny nose is a persistent, watery discharge, particularly if you're also sneezing and have itchy or watery eyes, your symptoms may be allergy-related, and an over-the-counter antihistamine may help. Be sure to follow the label instructions exactly.
  • For babies and small children, use a soft, rubber-bulb syringe to gently remove any secretions.

To relieve postnasal drip — when excess saliva (mucus) builds up in the back of your throat – try these measures:

  • Avoid common irritants such as cigarette smoke and sudden humidity changes.
  • Drink plenty of water because fluid helps thin nasal secretions.
  • Try nasal saline sprays or rinses.

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Feb. 27, 2021

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