runny nose

With the cold weather sticking around, it might feel like you’ve got a runny nose most of the time. You’re sniffling constantly, there’s a drip in the back of your throat, or worse, it’s coming out of your nose.

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What Makes Your Nose Run?

Bacteria and viruses are in the air all around us, and they go up your nose. The mucus in your nose and the cilia, those hair-like structures inside your nostrils, work together to trap germs and keep you from getting sick.

Your nose produces more mucus to try to push out the germs that have made their way in. If the germs get past the mucus lining in your nose, you’re likely to get sick. That’s when your immune system kicks in even more, creating more snot.

You’ll have a runny nose as long as it takes your immune system to fight off the illness, and then it’ll decrease. When the mucus dries up, you get boogers. Although gross, those boogers can give you a hint as to what your immune system is doing and whether you’re fighting off an illness that requires a trip to the doctor.

What Can You Do About a Runny Nose?

There’s not much you can do to stop your nose from running. Your body’s working the way it should be. If the nasal drip is just too much, you can take an antihistamine, decongestant, or try different ways to clean your nose.

Using a neti pot or humidifier can help you clear out added pressure in your sinuses and wash away some of the germs trying to get past the mucus lining.

Remember that while your nose is running, that mucus can spread sickness to other people. Be sure to wash your hands every time you blow or wipe your nose. And look out for other people with runny noses to make sure you don’t catch their germs.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About Ear Nose and Throat

The experts in the UPMC Department of Otolaryngology treat a variety of ear, nose, and throat (ENT) conditions in both children and adults. Our team includes board-certified physicians and highly skilled speech-language pathologists and audiologists. We provide both surgical and nonsurgical treatment options. Our research and clinical trials help to advance care for our patients. Find an ENT expert near you.