Having trouble breathing with your stuffy nose?
Blowing your nose only feels like a dead end with no proper air circulation within your system.
Tired of breathing through your mouth and waking in the middle of the night?
You are stuck with a stuffy nose that’s blocked with thick mucus.
Stuffy nose is known as rhinitis in medical terms which means your mucus membranes in your nose have become inflamed.
There are allergens and pollen all around us in the air, if you have inhaled an allergen, bacterium or virus, then the mast cells in your body release a chemical called histamine that initiates the inflammatory process which causes the build up of mucus.
A stuffy or blocked nose is a common symptom of sinus infections and is often caused by the inflammation of blood vessels in the sinuses. This inflammation can lead to an increased blood flow into the vessels, making it difficult to breathe and causing discomfort.
Nasal swelling or congestion makes it difficult to breathe with the trapped mucus that is blocking the airflow.
Stuffy nose has associated symptoms:
- Nasal itching
- Sinus pressure
- Itchy eyes
What’s Causing Your Nose To Feel Stuffed Up?
Knowing the cause of your blocked nose will help you select the appropriate treatment for you to prevent future triggers.
Some of the causes of nasal congestion include:
- Common cold
- Hay fever or Seasonal allergies
- COVID-19 infection
- Sinus infection
- Overuse of some over-the-counter nasal drops or spray
- Other irritants like alcohol, hot foods, dry air, air pollution, some drugs, or strong scents from cleaning supplies
- Temperature changes
- Enlarged nasal polyps that are small non cancerous sacs of inflamed tissues
- Deviated septum
If you have runny or itchy eyes, along with sneezing and runny nose then you likely have allergies or nonallergic rhinitis.
But, if you have thick, yellow or green discharge from your nose then you likely have an infection.
Make sure to check in with your doctor if your nose feels clogged for more than a week without getting better or is accompanied by fever, headache and facial pain as you could be having an infection where you will need prescribed antibiotics.
12 Ways To Help Clear Your Stuffy Nose
Whether nose congestion is brought on by allergies, dry air, a cold, or the flu, there are natural remedies and over-the-counter medications that can help you breathe more easily right away.
Ready to regain your breath and get some much-needed relief?
Try one of these natural remedies listed below:
1. Aim for a Nasal Irrigation or Neti Pot
Wash your nose with saline water in an irrigation squeeze bottle to thin down the mucus in your nostrils.
What happens with this remedy is that the saline water gets pumped deeper into the nasal cavity which goes around the back of the nose to come out the other side.
This method helps clear the dust, pollen that gets collected in your nasal pathways covering a larger area in the nose.
Nasal irrigation is safe for all ages but, if your immune system is compromised then you will need to consult your doctor first.
You can also make your own homemade saline solution by:
- Adding 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt to
- 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
- Pour 8 ounces of sterile water and mix (distilled water or boiled water)
You can use this mix 2 times a day in the morning and at night for optimal effects.
Here are some precautions of using an irrigation squeeze bottle to reduce risk of infection:
- Use only sterile, distilled or boiled water (Not tap water as it can have bacteria)
- Carefully follow the instructions for using a nasal irrigation
- Wash and dry hands before using the device
- Always wash and clean the device and keep it dry when not in use
Neti pot is similar to an irrigation bottle but without the pump because it’s made of ceramic which makes it more of a manual cleansing tool.
Here is how to use a nasal irrigation that has similar instructions to a neti pot minus the pumping factor:
- Rinse the nasal irrigation with warm water before use
- Pour lukewarm water into the device with the saline solution and give it a shake
- Put your head over a sink while standing
- Place the nozzle of the device in one nostril
- Lean forward towards the sink and gently pump the solution in one nostril (nasal irrigation) or tilt your head sideways until the solution enters into the upper nostril (neti pot)
- One the water enters into your nostril, the water will exit the other nostril and empty into the sink
- Make sure to breath through your mouth and not your nose
- Do this procedure for one minute in both your nostrils or equal amounts of solutions into your nostrils
Performing a nasal wash will clear sinus problems by softening, loosening and washing mucus away and ease dry nasal passages.
2. Use a Nasal Spray
You can hydrate your nostrils with saline water by using a nasal saline spray to increase the moisture.
Saline-only sprays do not contain medication, so they are usually safe to use even during pregnancy.
Some saline sprays have decongestant components included so before you take nasal spray with decongestants, consult with your doctor.
Take caution and not overuse nasal sprays with decongestants as it can irritate your nose and cause a reverse effect making your nose even more congested.
This over-the-counter remedy works by pulling water out of the clogged mucosa in your nose, which eventually causes the enlarged nasal tissue to shrink and the stuffiness to go away.
3. Inhale through Warm Steam
Taking steam through a warm shower or a warm cup of tea will thin mucus and help them drain from your nose.
A quick steam remedy would be to boil water in a large cooking pot and pour that over a large boil to cool down a bit and lean over the pot with a towel over your head to inhale the steam.
You can do this 3-4 times a day.
Put chamomile or peppermint oil in a bowl of warm water and inhale through it with a towel covering your head to get the most out of the steam coming out.
The bowl must always be set down on a flat surface level.
Inhaling steam helps with your nasal congestion as the warmth and wetness offers a soothing comfort through your air passage.
4. Use a Humidifier
If you are reluctant to rinse your nose regularly then a humidifier is a quick and easy way to lessen sinus discomfort and help relieve nasal congestion.
This device converts water to moisture which fills the air around you and raises the humidity in the room.
Breathing in humid air will relieve the inflamed tissues and enlarged blood vessels in your nose and sinuses and improve the drainage of clogged mucus.
If you experience nasal congestion issues, then placing humidifiers throughout your house or workplace will help ease your breathing.
A humidifier will also help you sleep better as dry air gets eliminated around you.
It’s better to use cool-mist vaporizers than warm-mist vaporizers especially if you have children in your house to prevent the device from being knocked over.
Make sure to change the water daily and clean the device according to the instructions mentioned in the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent growth of bacteria.
A humidifier is beneficial for both children and adults especially if you don’t want to utilize medications.
5. Try Natural Decongestants
Can the same vitamin C that fights colds also relieve congestion?
Although it doesn’t directly relieve congestion, vitamin C helps reduce the intensity of symptoms and shorten the length of a congestion brought by a cold a little faster.
For a natural remedy for nasal congestion, you can consume foods high in vitamin C, such as Strawberries, Amalaki fruit, and Black Currant, or you can try having lemon or orange tea.
You can also add ginger to your tea which helps with stuffy nose allergies.
A study published in the BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies discovered that a daily 500mg dosage of ginger extract works as effectively as loratadine, an antihistamine drug similar to Claritin for congested nose allergies.
Ginger has both anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory processes.
You can drink a cup of ginger tea everyday to aid with the stuffiness brought on by allergies or add ginger extracts to your vitamin C drink.
6. Make use of Natural Essential Oils
By acting as a potent decongestant, the best essential oil can help break up stubborn mucus and alleviate nasal congestion, offering a natural and effective solution to respiratory problems.
Eucalyptus oil that comes from the leaves of eucalyptus tree has been used for medicinal purposes for a long time with its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, pain relieving and sedative properties.
You can inhale eucalyptus oil through steam using a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a bowl of hot water or through a diffuser.
Eucalyptus has menthol containing lozenges that help with nasal clearing.
Lozenges have eucalyptus or menthol which also helps clear your nose congestion.
While eucalyptus oil is safe to inhale, make sure to not apply the oil directly to the skin as it can cause a reaction and store it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight to maintain the composition of the oil.
Peppermint is another essential oil with menthol as its primary active component.
It can be used as a natural decongestant to thin out the mucus in your lungs.
You will find components of peppermint in cough drops and chest massages as it gives a refreshing cooling effect.
You can also drink peppermint tea to thin down your stuffy nose.
The steam that comes out from the tea will help with your breathing.
You can purchase the tea or make your own with 1 tsp of dried peppermint being steeped for 10 minutes in a cup of boiling water.
You can drink this tea 5 times a day to help drain your mucus.
You can also try using lemongrass and rosemary for getting rid of nasal congestion.
You can use these oils by inhaling through a diffuser with aromatherapy or in the form of a natural vapor rub.
These oils can also help treat chest irritations by decreasing nasal congestions and spasms that occur from coughing repeatedly.
7. Have Hot Broths
Your nose is congested you say? Have chicken soup!
You must have soup with a stuffy nose once in your lifetime atleast and if you haven’t had it, well then, now is the time!
Mucus congestion can be loosened by drinking hot broths and chicken soup is the best to help you feel less stuffy while enjoying the flavor.
The substance carnosine present in chicken helps lessen the congested sensation in your throat and nose by reducing the inflammation in the upper respiratory tract.
Chicken soup decreases the activity of neutrophils, a kind of white blood cell which helps reduce inflammation.
The nutrients present in chicken soup makes it a great option for winter chilly days.
Not to mention spices like pepper and garlic are a natural way to open blocked nasal passages.
The capsaicin in chilis helps ease sinus problems and drain clogged mucus.
You can also try horseradish soup that has high sulfur levels to help clear mucus and promote drainage.
Whip up a soup for your stuffy nose to breathe easier.
8. Stay Hydrated
Whenever you are ill, you will hear from one person or the other to “drink water” as water helps improve the functionality of most of the major systems of the body.
Keeping yourself hydrated helps thin out mucus as it brings moisture to your larynx, mouth and throat making it easier for you to breathe.
There will be less pressure, less inflammation and irritation in your nose if you drink plenty of fluids.
It’s better to drink warm water to help with your breathing and nasal congestion from the warmth giving you a soothing effect.
9. Take a Warm Shower
Have you ever noticed how taking a warm shower helps you breathe easily?
Taking a warm shower can help thin out the mucus in your nose and reduce the inflammation through the steam that comes from the warm water.
You can help relieve your congested nose by taking a warm shower or dip yourself into a hot tub!
You can also get the same effect quicker by breathing in the steam from hot water in a sink.
You can cover your head with a towel for better coverage and take in deep breaths from the steamy build up in the sink.
You can do this several times in a day and be sure not to get too close and risk burning your skin.
10. Upgrade your Bedtime Routine
Do you feel your nose to be stuffier in bedtime?
When you lie down, the gravity causes the mucus to back up instead of drain which makes it difficult to breathe.
To counteract this problem, you can add an extra pillow under your head to elevate your head and make gravity work for you.
Here are some routines you can follow to help relieve your nose congestion to sleep better:
- Add a cool-mist vaporizer at the side of your bed to help drain your mucus
- Try massaging the ala part of your nose and sinuses in a circular motion with your fingers in both sides of your nose to thin the mucus inside and make it easier for you to blow your nose
- Apply light pressure to the bridge of your nose with your thumb and index finger
- Wear a nasal breathing strip on the bridge of your nose area to help open your nasal passages and ease breathing at night
- Purchase a hot compress product that can be microwaved or make a warm compress by soaking a towel in warm water and squeeze the water out to place it over your nose and forehead for 15 minutes
Over-the counter medications include:
Get yourself an over-the-counter decongestant pill to help shrink the inflamed blood vessels in your nose to ease your breathing.
The important components that need to be included are phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine.
Decongestants come in both oral and nasal form that work by shrinking the swollen blood vessels in your nose and air passages.
Nasal decongestants work faster than oral ones as the medication travels directly to the congested area without passing through your body.
Decongestant nasal sprays have a rebound effect from drug dependence and so it is advised to not be used for long periods of time.
If you have high blood pressure, diabetes or heart problems, you should avoid using decongestants since they may cause an accelerated heart rate, dry mouth and headache.
Before using decongestants, consult with your doctor to check if it is safe to use for you.
If your nasal congestion is from an allergic reaction then you can take an antihistamine pill to lessen the swelling in your nasal passages.
Combining antihistamine and decongestant medications helps reduce the pressure brought on by allergic reactions.
This pill can make you feel sleepy so try not to take it when you are driving, working or are busy as it will affect your focus or opt for a nonsedating antihistamine pill.
Over-the-counter antihistamines like loratadine (Claritin) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can help drain excess mucus.
These medications prevent the synthesis of histamine which is the main driver of inflammation and mucus formation.
You can take antihistamines along with a nasal spray for optimal effects.
Make sure to check the instructions in the medication or ask the pharmacist about any concerns you have.
While safe for most people, consult with your doctor before taking antihistamines if you are pregnant or have other health conditions and are taking medications for it.
When Should I Contact A Doctor?
Most of us can manage nasal congestion at home because it is temporary.
But, if you see the symptoms have not been improved or they have worsened with additional new symptoms then it would be best to seek medical assistance.
Some conditions cause nasal congestion as an additional complication like viral infection can also make you get sinusitis, bronchitis or ear infections.
To rule out a bacterial infection or any other possible cause or complication consult a doctor, if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Facial ache
- Green mucus
- Pain in the ear
- Persistent coughs
- Chest tightness
Swollen nostrils affect your breathing and air flow with the blood vessels inflamed in your sinuses making you have a stuffy nose.
Stuffy nose can be treated by several home remedies like saline solution wash, inhaling steam, taking a warm shower and having hot broths to name a few.
Other methods include taking decongestant or antihistamine pills that are over-the-counter.
If you have a chronically stuffy nose and experience other symptoms, such as a fever, you should contact a doctor.
Happy clear breathing with these remedies you can try at the comfort of your home!