Also called a stuffy nose, nasal congestion is a health condition that creates problems and can be annoying. The nasal passages become tight, making a person sound awkward when they speak. Every time you have to talk or breathe, you have to blow your nose first, and even when you do so, it is usually dry and nothing comes out, but the nose remains blocked. A person suffers more during the night.
Most people think the nose gets tight due to it being full of mucus that gets stuck in the nasal passage. But, in reality, the nose gets clogged due to inflamed vessels inside the sinuses. The clogged vessels become irritated, which causes breathing difficulty. The vessels are triggered by changing climates, allergies, and colds, which cause sinus infections.
Regardless of the reason for your stuffed-up nose, there are easy ways to relieve it. Below are eight things you can do now to feel and breathe better:
1. A humidifier
A humidifier provides a quick, easy way to reduce sinus pain and relieve a stuffy nose. The machine converts water to moisture that slowly fills the air, increasing the humidity in a room. Breathing in this moist air can soothe irritated tissues and swollen blood vessels in your nose and sinuses. Humidifiers also thin the mucus in your sinuses. This can help empty the fluids in your nose and return your breathing to normal. Put a humidifier in your room to ease the inflammation causing your congestion.
2. Take a shower
Have you ever had a stuffy nose and found you could breathe so much better after a hot shower? There’s a good reason for that: the steam from the shower helps thin out the mucus in your nose and reduces inflammation. Taking a hot shower can help your breathing return to normal, at least for a little while.
You can get the same effect by breathing in steam from hot water in a sink. Here’s how: Turn on the hot water in your bathroom sink. Once the temperature is right, place a towel over your head and put it over the sink. Allow the steam to build, then take deep breaths. Be careful not to burn your face on the hot water or steam.
3. Stay hydrated
Keep fluids flowing when your nose is stuffed up. Almost all liquids can help keep you hydrated when you’re sick, including water, sports drinks, and even juice. They help thin the mucus in your nasal passages, pushing the fluids out of your nose and decreasing the pressure in your sinuses. Less pressure means less inflammation and irritation. If your stuffy nose is accompanied by a sore throat, warm tea and soup will help ease the discomfort there, too.
4. Use a saline spray
Take hydration one step further with saline, a saltwater solution. Using a saline nasal spray can increase the moisture in your nostrils. The spray helps thin the mucus in your nasal passages, which decreases the inflammation of your blood vessels and helps empty fluids from your nose. Numerous saline sprays are available over the counter. Some saline sprays also include decongestant medication. Talk to your doctor before you begin using saline sprays with decongestants, as they may actually make your congestion worse if used for more than three days. They can also cause side effects when used along with other medications.
5. Drain your sinuses
It’s not the most glamorous task, but you can flush your clogged nostrils with a neti pot. A neti pot is a container designed to flush mucus and fluids out of the nasal passages. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using distilled or sterile water instead of tap water.
Here’s how to use a neti pot: Stand with your head over a sink; place the spout of the neti pot in one nostril; tilt the neti pot until water enters your nasal passage; once the water flows into your nostril, it will come out through your other nostril and empty into the sink. Do this for about one minute, then switch sides.
6. Use a warm compress
A warm compress may help unclog a stuffy nose by opening the nasal passages from the outside. To make a warm compress, first soak a towel in warm water. Squeeze the water out of the towel, then fold it and place it over your nose and forehead. The warmth can provide comfort from any pain and help relieve the inflammation in the nostrils. Repeat this as often as necessary.
7. Try decongestants
Decongestant medications can help reduce swelling and ease pain associated with irritated nasal passages. Many decongestants are available without a doctor’s prescription. They come in two forms: nasal spray and pill. Common decongestant nasal sprays include oxymetazoline (Afrin) and phenylephrine (Sinex). Common decongestant pills include pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Sudogest). Many of these medicines are kept behind the pharmacy counter, so you’ll need to get them from the pharmacist.
8. Take antihistamines or allergy medicine
You may want to take an antihistamine or allergy medicine if your stuffy nose is the result of an allergic reaction. Both types of medications can reduce the swelling in your nasal passages, helping to unclog your stuffy nose. Combination medicines that contain both an antihistamine and a decongestant can relieve sinus pressure and swelling caused by allergic reactions.