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Top Medications to Quickly Dry Up a Runny Nose

Updated on February 10th, 2024

Save up to 88% on your medications

Written and medically reviewed by Dorcas Morak, Pharm.D

Dealing with a runny nose is never a pleasant experience, especially as part of a common cold or flu. The constant drip can be uncomfortable and irritating, whether a viral infection, allergies, or chilly weather causes it. Fortunately, many over-the-counter medications are available to provide relief and help you get back on your feet. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the best- medications to quickly dry up a runny nose and address other symptoms associated with colds and flu.

What is a Runny Nose? How is it Different from Nasal Congestion?

A runny nose, or rhinorrhea, is characterized by mucus secretion or a thin, watery discharge from the nose. Viruses, cold temperatures, or allergies often trigger it. On the other hand, nasal congestion refers to the swelling of nasal passages, leading to difficulty breathing through the nose due to inflamed blood vessels. Over-the-counter remedies treat both of these symptoms and provide much-needed relief.

How Do You Get Rid of a Runny Nose Fast?

Proper hydration and enough rest are essential to recover from a runny or stuffy nose quickly. Additionally, saline nasal sprays, decongestant nasal sprays, neti pots, or cool-mist humidifiers can help relieve irritated nasal passages.

What are the Best Cold Medicines to Dry Up a Runny Nose, and How do they Differ?

Several antihistamines stand out for their effectiveness in drying up runny noses. These include diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Nytol), brompheniramine (Dimetapp Cold, Allergy Elixir), and doxylamine (NyQuil). You should consider the sedative side effects when choosing the best antihistamine for daytime or nighttime use. Diphenhydramine is often considered the most sedating of the three, whereas brompheniramine is less likely of the three to cause drowsiness, although it can still impair alertness and coordination.

Remember, these rankings are based on typical responses and may not apply to everyone. The sedative effects can vary based on individual factors like metabolism, age, and sensitivity to medication.

What is the Best Cold Medicine for a Stuffy Nose?

Oral decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), can significantly reduce nasal congestion by diminishing blood vessel swelling. Preservative-free saline nasal sprays like Flo Saline Plus and Ayr are alternative options, relieving thick mucus and moisturizing inflamed nasal passages.

What is the Best Medicine for Cough symptoms?

Antihistamines such as Actifed Cold and Benadryl Allergy & Cold are effective in drying up secretions that lead to postnasal drip, which is a frequent cause of coughing. Expectorants like guaifenesin (Guai-Aid, Mucinex) thin out mucus, easing its expulsion. Cough suppressants, such as dextromethorphan (Delsym), block the brain's cough reflex.

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