Nasal congestion can be an annoyance that can last for several days or linger for several months. For the most part, congestion can stem from the buildup of mucus in the nasal cavity or an inflammation of the lining of the sinuses. The stuffiness can be caused by the common cold, the flu, allergies, a sinus infection, nasal polyps or even pregnancy. There are several home remedies and over-the-counter aids that can be used to clear up a stuffed up nose and give the sufferer a little relief.
Take over-the-counter nasal decongestants, such as Sudafed, according to the package directions. These will help shrink the blood vessels that line the inner nostrils, which will help relive the sinus pressure and stuffiness. Do not take these medications for more than 72 hours, or they could actually make the sinus congestion worse. This is known as rebound congestion, the result of abnormal swelling and enlargement of the nasal mucosa.
Turn the shower onto high and shut the bathroom door. Allow the room to fill with steam and inhale it for around 30 minutes. The steam will help break up mucus and open nasal cavities. This also works well for infants and small children who are experiencing nasal congestion.
Increase your fluid intake. Drink extra water, warm chicken broth or hot tea. The liquids will help thin out the mucus, which will make it flow more freely.
Use a nasal irrigator, or neti pot, available at most pharmacies. Tip your head to one side, and pour a small amount of lukewarm salt water into one of the nostrils. The water will work its way through the sinuses, clean out any allergens or debris found there and pour out the other nostril. The water also will help moisten the sinuses, which can give added comfort.
Moisten a hand towel with hot water and place it over the upper half of your face. This will help soothe the pain of the stuffy nose and break up the mucus.
Prop your head up with an extra pillow or sleep in the sitting position. Mucus can more easily drain from an elevated head. This also is useful for infants and smaller children.