Although a runny nose is typically relieved with nasal decongestants and antihistamines, the best medicine for runny nose depends upon its cause. A runny nose, or rhinorrhea, is characterized by excess mucus produced by nasal tissues and blood vessels. It can be caused by influenza, colds, allergies and sinusitis, states Mayo Clinic.
The treatment for a runny nose is geared toward its originating condition. Antibiotics are given to patients with bacterial infections. Antihistamines, such as loratadine, certirizine and levocetirizine, are used to relieved runny nose caused by viral infections and sinusitis. Mucus-thinning medications and saline nasal sprays may also be given, explains WebMD. Drinking plenty of fluids, using a humidifier and avoiding common irritants can also help alleviate runny nose.
Patients whose rhinorrhea lasts for more than 10 days or is accompanied by high-grade fever should immediately seek medical advice. A bloody nasal discharge or a clear nasal discharge after a head injury should be a cause for concern, states Mayo Clinic. Infants who have trouble breathing and nursing due to a runny nose must also be taken to a doctor.
A runny nose can also be caused by a deviated septum or other anatomical anomalies that affect the sinuses. Certain medications, such as antihypertensive drugs and birth control pills, can also cause rhinorrhea. Cold temperatures, certain foods and chemical fumes may also trigger production of excess mucus. The presence of foreign objects in the nasal cavity sometimes causes rhinorrhea as well, explains WebMD.