What is a nasal congestion?
Cold, flu, and sinus infections are often few of the culprits that lead to sinus and nasal congestion. Most people must have experienced sinus-related pain and pressure in some point of their lives, and often, people tend to recover without taking antibiotics or any other medications. There are a number of natural remedies that can help in clearing out a nasal congestion.
In simple terms, nasal congestion is also called as a stuffy nose or blocked nose. This congestion mostly occurs when the nasal cavity tends to swell leading to the buildup of mucus. Due to the accumulation of mucus, it becomes difficult to normally breathe through the nose. Hence, people often complain of having breathing problems when they have nasal congestion.
Most nasal congestions are known to last for a week or so. It is usually caused by the following conditions:
- Dry air
- Hormonal changes in the body
- Acute sinusitis
- Acute or chronic case of asthma
- Excessive tobacco smoking
- Certain allergies or hay fever
- Thyroid disorders
Rare causes of nasal congestion can be attributed to tumors or polyps. Few of the common symptoms experienced by individuals with nasal congestion are mucus buildup, watery eyes, swelling of the nasal tissues, sinus pain, hoarseness in the voice, and mild headaches.
Nose blockage is often a discomforting feeling and leads to annoyance. When it comes to small children, one should be more careful as it would lead to disturbance of their sleep such as breathing troubles while sleeping. Nasal congestions should be immediately treated to avoid other problems such as lack of sleep or ear infections.
Nasal congestion can be treated at home using various natural remedies. You can use the following natural remedies to provide relief until you feel well again.
1. Inhaling Steam
Steam inhalation is one of the most popular home remedies when it comes to common colds. You can also add in some essential oils to the hot water for added benefits. Inhalation of steam acts as a natural expectorant, which helps get rid of congestion along with lubricating the irritated respiratory tract due to congestion.
For steaming, boil some clean water in a pot. If needed, you can add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil or peppermint oil to the water. Once it is mixed well, pour this water into a bowl. Cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam for a couple of minutes until you find some relief.
To ensure quick healing, carry out this process at least two to three times a day on a daily basis. You can also add a tablespoon of crushed carom seeds to the boiling water. However, steam inhalation is not recommended for children under the age of 12 since it increases the risk of burns to the face.
2. Nasal Irrigation
Nasal irrigation is another reliable method when it comes to clearing out excess mucus and maintaining the nasal passages free from irritants to prevent any chances of infection.
Start by making a saline solution by adding one-fourth teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda into a cup of warm water. Add this solution to a neti pot. Stand near a sink and tilt your head on one side. Squirt the solution into one of the nostrils. Move your head back, forward, and from one side to the other so that the solution reaches to the nasal cavities. Once this is done, blow your nose to remove the excess solution and mucus. Repeat this same process with the other nostril. You can do this method at least once a day and few times a week later on. If you are unsure how to perform the procedure, ask your doctor rather than doing it all by yourself.
3. Cayenne Pepper
This spice acts as an antihistamine, which is very helpful in treating nasal congestion. The capsaicin content present in cayenne pepper is quite helpful when it comes to thinning and loosening mucus so that it can be easily eliminated from the body. This then provides a soothing effect to an irritated throat.
To make a cayenne pepper mixture, mix half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and honey. Take this mixture two to three times a day for few days until you feel better. Apart from this mixture, you can also mix half to one teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder into a cup of warm water. Sip this mixture slowly and take it few times a day. If you do not like taking cayenne pepper directly, then you can mix cayenne pepper in your normal cooking so it gets mixed with food and can be consumed well.
Garlic is one of the most powerful herbs since it is loaded with antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Garlic helps control the excessive production of mucus and also prevents any kind of infection. It also promotes a speedy recovery. You can take garlic supplements as recommended by the doctor. Another option is to chew raw garlic cloves few times a day. Next option is to chop around three to four garlic cloves and roast them in a teaspoon of butter for a minute. You can also eat garlic with warm milk twice a day, which should be done for a few days. Aside from eating it raw, you can boil two to three cloves of garlic in a cup of water and then mix about half a teaspoon of turmeric powder to it. Drink this mixture two times a day to relieve nasal congestion.
There are also garlic supplements available in the market, which can be taken on a regular basis to prevent the occurrence or frequency of nasal congestions. However, it is still better to consult a doctor before taking any kind of supplement.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
One of the best remedies to quickly clear a stuffy nose is to use apple cider vinegar. It works as a natural form of decongestant, which would help break up the buildup of mucus. It is proven as an excellent relief for blocked and stuffy nose.
Apple cider vinegar also contains potassium, which helps dry up a runny nose. It is also loaded with several other nutrients that are good for the overall health of the body and the immune system. To take apple cider vinegar, mix two tablespoons of raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar along with a tablespoon of raw honey in a warm cup of water. Drink this mixture daily for two to three times a day. Another process of consuming it is by taking equal amounts of water and raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a pan. Let this mixture boil and then inhale the steam. However, make sure to close your eyes to avoid a stinging pain. Do this method for two to three times a day or as needed.
Acupuncture has led to a lot of benefits for the overall health of the body. For acupuncture to relieve nasal congestion, you would need to use your left thumb and index finger and then press it to the area, which is next to the inner eyes on both the sides of the nose. Simultaneously, use the fingers as well as the heel of the other hand to grab the muscles on both sides of the spine, which is at the back of the neck. Apply pressure on all the four points for about one to two minutes and you will find some relief.
Sinuses tend to become inflamed when the air becomes too dry, thus leading to an uncomfortable feeling of stuffiness. With the help of a humidifier, it would add more moisture to the air providing relief from sinus inflammation. It also helps in loosening the congestion present in and around the nose. A humidifier machine converts the water into moisture, which then fills up the air leading to an increase in humidity in the room. When one breathes in this air, it provides relief and soothes the irritated tissues along with swollen blood vessels in the nose and sinuses.
8. Increase Fluid Intake
One of the most common defense against nasal congestion is to keep yourself hydrated. Enough water in the body keeps the mucus thin. The body and the nasal passages are maintained and well hydrated if you drink sufficient amounts of fluid every day. Make sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. The more you are hydrated, the more it would help in thinning the mucus. You can also sip warm liquids since they can help in quickly opening up congested sinuses. You can also drink certain herbal teas such as ginger tea or mint teas, which can further reduce the instances of nasal congestion.
9. Warm Compresses
Use warm compresses to help unclog a blocked nose. Applying warm compresses can open up the nasal passages from the outside. To prepare a warm compress, you need to soak a clean towel in warm water. Squeeze out excess water out of the towel and then fold it. Place it over the nose and forehead. The warmth from the towel can provide comfort from the pain along with providing relief from sinus inflammation. Repeat this process as often as possible until you feel relieved from nasal congestion.
10. Be Careful of What You Eat
The kinds of food you eat play an important role when it comes to relieving nasal congestion. Some foods lead to the excessive production of mucus, while other food items can help in preventing further mucus buildup.
The foods that tend to promote mucus production and should be avoided are:
- Dairy items
- Seafood such as shellfish
- Processed meat
Instead, try to consume more foods that help in fighting off congestion. Such food items are soups, garlic and other herbs, warm drinks, fresh vegetable and fruits, as well as spicy foods. Make sure to eat a healthy and balanced diet to reduce the production of mucus along with providing ease from congestion. In one study, it was found out that individuals who consumed a diet that is high in sodium, refined carbohydrates, and meat tend to have an increased production of mucus, while those who had a diet rich in fiber, fruits, and veggies had lesser mucus formation.
11. Diffusing Essential Oils
There are certain essential oils that are known to be quite powerful in relieving a stuffy nose. You can add a few drops of your choice of essential oil in a diffuser and allow it to waft through the house. You can also sprinkle some essential oils into your bath water. Other methods of using essential oils include:
- Adding a few drops of essential oil on a tissue paper or handkerchief and hold it in front of your nose without touching your skin.
- For nasal congestion relief during nighttime, you can add a few drops of essential oils on the pillow and experience the soothing effect it creates.
Commonly used essential oils:
- Eucalyptus - acts as a potent antiviral and antiseptic decongestant.
- Peppermint - helps in opening up the nasal passages.
- Rosemary - acts as an antiseptic and also helps in opening up the nasal passages.
- Lavender - has antimicrobial, anti-allergic, and antiseptic properties. It is basically known for its antiseptic properties, which help clear the nasal passage.