How to Relieve a Stuffy Nose

By Wirnani Garner

Nasal congestion--a stuffy nose--happens when the tissues and blood vessels inside the nose become swollen with extra fluid. Colds, influenza, allergies to dust, pollen, and pet dander or irritation from tobacco smoke can all cause nasal congestion. For adults and older children, a stuffy nose is simply annoying and may hamper sleep and comfort; for infants, eating and breathing may become difficult and medical attention may be needed.

Take oral decongestants that contain pseudoephedrine to reduce swelling of the linings of the nose and relieve congestion. When taking any medications, read labels, follow the instructions and be aware of any allergies. People with high blood pressure should consult their health care provider before taking pseudoephedrine.

If your stuffy nose is caused by allergies, take antihistamines to reduce mucus production. Be sure to take a non-drowsy antihistamine during the day to avoid sleepiness.

Use mild nasal decongestant spray for less than 3 days to soothe your clogged nose. Do not use this type of spray beyond 3 days because overuse of mild nasal decongestants can be a primary cause of nasal congestion due to a rebound effect of the medicine. Saline drops can be very helpful in soothing nasal congestion and will not cause rebound nasal congestion.

Increase the air humidity at home by using an ultrasonic vaporizer or a cool mist humidifier.

Inhale steam to relieve a stuffy nose. To do this, fill a pot halfway with water. Let the water boil for a few minutes and add 1 to 2 tsp. of Vicks Vaporub. Stir for a few seconds and then cover the pot with the lid to trap the steam. Turn the heat off and place a towel on top of your head with the rest of it hanging on the sides of your shoulder. Open the lid and carefully lean over the pot. As you do this, cover your head and the pot with your towel (allowing no steam to escape) and breath in the steam.

Try water therapy. Staying hydrated will keep the natural moisture of the membranous linings of your nose from becoming dry. Juice, tea, or soup are also good aids for alleviating clogged noses.

Congestion only makes your breathing difficult when you lie down. So sit upright or keep your head elevated to ease your breathing.

Blow your nose to get the mucus out, but do it gently. Use a tissue instead of a handkerchief to avoid spreading the virus.

Apply some menthol topical rubs like Vicks on your back, chest, on top of your nose, or on the space between your nose and upper lip to help soothe your breathing.

Massage your nose bridge gently. Using your thumb and index finger, apply a soft up and down motion on the bridge of your nose, until you are able to breathe easy.

Pamper your self with a soothing hot bath. The steam will relieve your stuffy nose by shrinking your swollen mucus membranes, making it easy for you to drain mucus out of your nose.

Get a lot of rest to allow a faster healing process. Sleep with your head elevated to make it easy for you to breathe.

Tips

If your nose feels dry and sore from blowing, apply a small amount of petroleum jelly on it, to keep it from chapping.

Warnings

Antihistamines have sedative effects that will make you feel drowsy. So avoid taking it when you're driving or operating any kind of machinery. Consult your health care provider if at home remedies are not helping or your stuffy nose persists beyond 5 days. If nasal congestion is accompanied by high fever, chills, facial pain, or severe headache, consult your health care provider.

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