A runny nose may be annoying and uncomfortable, but it usually clears up on its own. Occasionally, it can be a sign of a more serious problem. A runny nose may be serious in infants.
Call your doctor if:
- Your symptoms last more than 10 days.
- You have a high fever.
- Your nasal discharge is yellow and green and is accompanied by 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.
Call your child's doctor if:
- Your child is younger than 2 months and is running 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:
- Sniffing and swallowing or gently blowing your nose.
- Avoid known allergic triggers.
- If the runny nose is a persistent, watery discharge, particularly if accompanied by sneezing and itchy or watery eyes, your symptoms may be allergy-related. An over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine may help. You can also try an OTC nasal steroid, such as budesonide (Rhinocort Allergy), fluticasone (Flonase Allergy Relief) or triamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24 Hour). Be sure to follow the label instructions exactly.
- For babies and small children, use a soft rubber suction bulb to gently remove any secretions.
Try these measures to relieve postnasal drip — when excess mucus builds up in the back of your throat:
March 16, 2021
- Avoid common irritants such as cigarette smoke and sudden humidity changes.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Try nasal saline sprays or rinses.
- Post-nasal drip. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/post-nasal-drip/. Accessed Feb. 8, 2019.
- Peden D. An overview of rhinitis. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Feb. 8. 2019.
- Rhinitis. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/rhinitis/. Accessed Dec. 31, 2018.
- Schulz KA, et al. Patterns of migraine disease in otolaryngology: A CHEER Network Study. Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. 2018;159:42.
- King TE, et al. Clinical features and diagnosis of eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Churg-Strauss). https:/www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Dec. 31, 2018.
- Sexton DJ, et al. The common cold in adults: Diagnosis and clinical features. https:/www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Dec. 31, 2018.
- Nasal congestion and rhinorrhea. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/ear-nose-and-throat-disorders/approach-to-the-patient-with-nasal-and-pharyngeal-symptoms/nasal-congestion-and-rhinorrhea. Accessed Dec. 31, 2018.
- Cold versus flu. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/coldflu.htm. Accessed Dec. 31, 2018.
- Lemiere C, et al. Occupational asthma: Clinical features and diagnosis. https:/www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Dec. 31, 2018.
- AskMayoExpert. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection (pediatric). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2018.
- Omoruyi EA. Practice Guideline: Approach to the child with rhinorrhea. Journal of Pediatric Health Care. 2018;32:319.
- Walls RM, et al., eds. Upper respiratory tract infections. In: Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2018. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 8, 2019.
- Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Caring for your two-month old. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
- Wilkinson JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 14, 2019.