It’s that time of year again. No, we’re not talking about pumpkin spice season, we’re referring to the my-nose-is-constantly-running-from-September-through-spring season. Everything from allergies to COVID-19 to the common cold or flu tends to get worse when the air gets cooler, and a runny nose (even when it’s relatively mild) can be a pretty annoying issue associated with all of them. The worst part? All that dripping can last from 10 to 14 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s quite a bit of snot, honestly.At its core, a nose that won’t stop running is your body’s way of responding to a trigger, Quintin M. Cappelle, MD, an ENT-otolaryngologist at the Mayo Clinic, tells SELF. Namely, it all comes down to some kind of irritant—like an allergen or a virus—spurring inflammation inside the noses or sinuses, which revs up your mucus glands. In some cases, the immune system appropriately responds to help fight off whatever’s stirring up trouble. In the case of a virus, the extra mucus is a good thing—it helps flush all the bad stuff right out. In the case of allergies, the inflammation is triggered by a generally harmless substance (like mold spores being released by rotting leaves), he says, which isn’t usually a threat to the body unless you have a condition like allergic asthma.A runny nose is just a part of life during cold and flu season, but you can feel a bit less miserable with some home care. Here’s how to get rid of the constant mucus drip as fast as possible, according to experts.First, you’ll want to figure out what’s causing your runny nose.Ultimately, if you are fighting with a runny nose, you’re in good company. Nasal congestion is one of the most frequent symptoms that doctors see.2 Figuring out what’s causing your nose to be a gushing snot faucet can be instrumental in treating it. If you’re also sneezing and dealing with itchy, watery eyes or a scratchy throat, you could have seasonal allergies, or allergic rhinitis, which are triggered by outdoor allergens such as mold, ragweed, and certain trees or indoor allergens, like pet dander, dust mites, and cockroaches, Nicole J. Van Groningen, MD, an internal medicine specialist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, tells SELF.Sometimes, other irritants can be fueling the constant mucus flow, says Dr. Van Groningen. That includes things like fragrances (yep, even from burning candles), cleaning products, or very cold air. “These aren’t technically allergens, but can still produce a response of congestion and a runny nose,” she says. Pollution may also be on that list, particularly when it comes to year-round nasal symptoms, according to a 2017 study published in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, but more research is needed.1However, if your runny nose is accompanied by a fever or chills, headache, body aches, or a sore throat, it’s probably a cold, the flu, or COVID-19, which are all caused by viruses that can set off similar symptoms, per the CDC. There are a few differences, though. A cold is typically milder than the flu and COVID-19; you’re also less likely to have a fever with a cold, and you shouldn’t have a fever with allergies. If you experience a change or loss in your taste and smell, you’re probably dealing with COVID-19, according to the CDC, but this symptom can still occur with any respiratory infection that affects the nasal passages. If you have any cold- or flu-like symptoms, it’s best to take an at-home COVID test, and confirm the results with a PCR test at your doctor’s office, if you can, so you can take appropriate precautions if you do test positive. In general, you’ll want to stay home if you’re not feeling well, regardless of what made you sick.
When Page Carlee, 35, was 19, she experienced her first migraine attack. It was nothing out of the ordinary as far as migraine goes—with a visual aura coming first and then intense head pain. She didn’t know it then, but migraine would soon become a constant companion in her life. Less than a decade after that first episode, her migraine attacks became chronic—sometimes striking 20 times in one month. But nothing could have prepared her for what happened next. At the age of 28, on a typical day at work, Carlee felt a migraine attack coming on. She decided to head home, but instead of walking to the door, she fell to the floor with stroke-like symptoms.She was having what’s called a hemiplegic migraine, a rare type of migraine that includes symptoms like weakness on one side of the body, headache, and changes in vision, speech, or sensation. This type of migraine only occurs in 0.01% of all reported migraine cases and is three times more likely to impact people assigned female at birth, per the American Migraine Foundation. What’s more, they’re often misdiagnosed as a stroke, at least initially.Because Carlee had dealt with migraine for years before she had her first hemiplegic episode, she thankfully got the proper diagnosis right away, but that didn’t make the experience any easier—especially as the hemiplegic migraine attacks became more frequent. The attacks have caused issues in her workplace, tension among close friends and family with well-intentioned but misinformed treatment suggestions, and a complete restructuring of her life around these debilitating attacks. Dealing with her new normal with hemiplegic migraines has taken years of effort, and it’s still a work in progress. This is her story, as told to health writer Katie Bowles.—When I experienced my first migraine at 19 years old, I thought for sure I was having an aneurysm because I couldn’t imagine anything more painful. I would soon be proven wrong. Around age 26, my migraine attacks went from episodic—maybe once every few months—to chronic, where I was having up to 20 per month. My mom has epilepsy so I began seeing a neurologist immediately. Migraine and epilepsy actually share a lot of symptoms, and I was worried I might be on my way to a similar diagnosis.Most of my migraine attacks are considered intractable migraine with aura, meaning they are long-lasting—between 24 to 72 hours—and come with a visual aura during the prodrome, or pre-headache, phase. These are your typical, standard migraine attacks, but I was having a lot of them, which can feel a bit life-ruining.Then when I was 28, something completely different happened. I had been at work for a few hours when I thought I had a typical migraine attack coming on. It hit without an aura, which was unusual for me, but not completely unheard of. I knew based on the pain that I needed to head home.