Nasal congestion occurs when allergies or colds cause the nasal cavity to swell and there is an accumulation of mucus, making breathing difficult. It can be more than uncomfortable, debilitating the patient a lot. Luckily, there are several ways to treat the problem and alleviate the buildup of mucus when a cold or allergy strikes you. This article shows simple ways to reduce congestion with natural remedies and medications.
Method 1 of 4: Quick Techniques
Step 1. Blow your nose
The simplest way to fight congestion is to force the phlegm out of your nose. Always carry a pack of nose papers or tissues when you leave the house.
Step 2. Eat something spicy
Many people have eaten wasabi and almost expelled fire through their noses. This is because spicy foods thin the mucus and reduce congestion, even temporarily. When the nose is very stuffy, try to eat:
- Peppers such as jalapeño, habañero or serrano.
- Horseradish or wasabi.
- Spicy ginger.
- Onion and garlic.
Step 3. Apply some minty ointment
Menthol products (such as Vick Vaporub ointment) will help fight congestion temporarily, allowing the person to breathe easier for an hour or two. Pass a little of the product on the upper part of the lips and under the nose, so that the steam enters the nostrils and takes effect.
Step 4. Stand upright
At bedtime, place several pillows on top of each other to lift your head and ease congestion. The clogging will remain, but the individual will be able to breathe better and be more comfortable.
Step 5. Massage your sinuses
This is an ancient technique to relieve nasal congestion, without using drugs or stimulants, just your fingers. Self-massage is easy and effective. There are three massages that can be done at home, at work or in public.
- With the index finger of each hand, place them on one side of the eye socket, above the nose but below the eyebrow. Use a circular motion and massage your breasts around your nose for 20 to 30 seconds.
- With two index fingers, place them under your eyes. Again with circular motions, massage the sinuses around the eyes for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Finally, place both thumbs on the cheekbone on both sides and massage it circularly again. Massage for 20 to 30 seconds.
Step 6. Use a warm compress and place it over your face
Soak a clean towel in hot water and wring it out until it is damp, not wet. Sit down and place it on your face for a few minutes; see if the discomfort subsides after the nasal passages are dilated.
Step 7. Take a hot shower
The hot steam will pass through the lungs and enter the nasal passage, loosening the mucus and improving congestion.
Method 2 of 4: Natural Remedies
Step 1. Use a steam treatment to soften the mucus
As soon as you can take more than one hot shower, create a steam treatment to unclog your nose. Steam treatments have been used for centuries around the world to reduce the amount of mucus in nasal congestion.
- Boil three cups of water. Then remove the water from the stove.
- Put a tea bag of chamomile and let it rest while the water cools. This step is optional.
- Once the steam is cold enough not to burn your hand, pour the water or tea into a bowl.
- Place your face over the bowl - being careful with the hot steam - and cover it with a towel and inhale deeply. If you cannot do this through your nose, at least initially, inhale through your mouth.
Step 2. Hydrate yourself
Drink water or juices as much as possible. For quick relief from blocked mucus in the nostrils, drink six to eight glasses of water. This strengthens the immune system and reduces swelling in the nasal passages.
Step 3. Use a humidifier
Humidifiers – and steam in general – are recommended for congestion, as dry air irritates the sinus membranes, exacerbating symptoms. Therefore, the use of moist air is highly recommended by doctors.
- If you don't have or don't want to buy a humidifier, you can build a homemade one using household items. Boil enough water to fill a large pot, remove it from the oven, and place it in a safe part of the room; the steam that comes out of the water will humidify the environment. Repeat as necessary.
- When using humidifiers, it is not necessary to leave them on for a long time. The air will get wet like in a rainforest. Just use the humidifier for a few hours to make the air more “breathable”.
Step 4. Prepare a saline solution for the nostrils
This mixture is very useful for decongesting the nasal passages without applying any medication. Add a teaspoon of salt to a cup of water and stir until dissolved. Take an eyedropper and drop a few drops of the solution into one nostril while your head is tilted back. Blow your nose to remove the substance and do the same procedure in the other nostril.
Step 5. Moisten the nostrils through a neti pot
For some people, the use of neti pots quickly relieves sinus symptoms without the need for medication. The neti pot thins the phlegm and pushes it out through the nasal passage.
- All neti pots will have their own instructions. Basically, you need to make the application solution, which consists of 470 ml of warm, sterile water together with a teaspoon of salt. Fill the neti pot with the saline solution.
- Tilt the head and set it at a 45° angle, bringing the neti pot to the upper nostril. The solution enters through one nostril, through the nasal cavity, and out through the other nostril. If the liquid gets into your mouth, spit it out. Blow your nose and repeat the steps with the other nostril.
- People who suffer from severe sinusitis or allergies can use the neti pot once a day. Once symptoms improve, the recommended use is three times a week.
Step 6. Work out
Although it's the last thing you want to do, staying on the move helps your body relieve itself. One way to reduce congestion quickly is to do 20 push-ups breathing only through your nose. The brain knows it needs more air and will fight the nasal swelling, leaving the runny nose thinner.
Step 7. Bathe in essential oils
Some essential oils soften mucus and clear the sinuses. Fill the bathtub with hot water and add ten drops of eucalyptus, tea tree or rosemary oil. Go in and rest in the bathtub until your nasal passages are clear and breathing is not too difficult.
Step 8. Sleep
Although this is a measure that never seems to work, don't work or go to school the day you have a stuffy nose and sleep all day. This gives the body time to fight the cold. If you are having difficulty sleeping because of congestion, try using a nasal dilator, use a medication, or breathe through your mouth. Use a lip balm when breathing through your mouth or your lips may become dry.
Step 9. Calm down
Stress interferes with the proper functioning of the immune system. The more nervous, the longer it will take for the sinuses to improve.
Method 3 of 4: Medical Solutions
Step 1. Use an over-the-counter decongestant
Such medications can be purchased at pharmacies and come in several types:
- Liquid: naphazoline (Neosoro), oxymetazoline (Afrin) or phenylephrine (Descongex Plus).
- Pills: Phenylephrine (Nasaliv) and Pseudoephedrine (Loratadine).
- Never use a liquid decongestant for more than three days or symptoms may get worse. Also, orals cannot be administered after seven days without a doctor's permission. Follow all instructions on the package insert.
Step 2. Use an antihistamine
Along with other remedies for treating allergies, antihistamines are beneficial in treating a stuffy nose. Choose models that also have decongestants in the formula, treating runny nose and sneezing while reducing the amount of runny nose and pressure on the sinuses. Try the following organic antihistamines:
- Nettle. Some doctors recommend consuming a nettle preparation known for its ability to decrease the amount of histamines produced by the body.
- Coughing is also effective as a natural antihistamine. It is widely used in Europe to treat skin problems. The leaves can be ground into a paste or the person can consume the cough extract in a pill.
- Basil works as a natural antihistamine. Heat a few small sprigs of basil to produce a steam that must be aspirated. Basil “soothes” the body, indicating that the amount of antihistamines produced can be decreased.
Method 4 of 4: What to Expect from a Doctor's Appointment
Step 1. Be ready to answer several basic questions
Nasal congestion has several causes and proper treatment cannot be done without the patient reporting the symptoms correctly. Some of the questions you might ask are:
- How long has the nose been blocked. See a doctor immediately if seven days have passed.
- Color of phlegm.
- Other symptoms such as fever, body aches, cough, etc.
- Known allergies.
- If the patient is a smoker.
Step 2. The first line of defense will be antibiotics and other prescription drugs
Most nasal congestion occurs as a symptom of colds or infections. In this way, doctors should administer medication to fight them.
If you take any other type of medicine regularly, inform your doctor
Step 3. Prepare to undergo an endoscopy
In this procedure, a camera will be inserted into the nose so the doctor can check the status of the upper airways. Although it looks uncomfortable, topical anesthetics will numb the area. The small camera is inserted into the sinuses to check for polyps, deviated septum or infections. If symptoms persist even with medication, endoscopy will be the doctor's second recourse.
The alternative to endoscopy is radiological study (through x-rays), which is expensive and impractical, but which may be necessary in extreme or difficult cases
Step 4. Learn about somnoplasty to treat chronic cases of congestion
This simple technique, which takes just 15 minutes, uses heat to open the sinuses and clear the blocked runny nose. The patient receives local anesthesia and will be released after about an hour.
- Hot needles are inserted into both nostrils, but most patients feel nothing.
- There will be congestion during the first and second weeks during recovery.
- If the procedure does not work, it can be repeated after a few weeks.
- The procedure is usually done in an otolaryngologist's office, not the hospital.
Step 5. The doctor will recommend surgery only in extreme cases
When there is severe infection or congestion, there is a need for endoscopic sinus surgery by inserting a camera into the airway, which will be used by the surgeon to remove the contaminated areas and open the nasal cavities.
- Surgery is almost always outpatient. The patient returns home the same day.
- There is virtually no pain. In a week or so, recovery will be complete.
- Occasionally, retouching is needed, but the success rate is very high.
Step 6. Learn about turnbinectomy so that congestion relief is very fast and very little invasive
This procedure treats the turbinates, structures in the nose that lead to congestion. Using CO2 or KTP laser, they are reduced in up to 20 minutes. No hospitalization is required and the patient can return to work the same day.
- There is a possibility of mild congestion for a week before it gets better.
- It will be necessary to apply light anesthetics, without inserting needles.
- The disadvantage of turbinectomy is the cost. Also, it may not be offered in all clinics.
- Do not consume dairy or chocolate, as both can lead to runny nose buildup.
- Avoid chlorinated water. Chlorine present in swimming pools, for example, can irritate mucous membranes and worsen congestion.
- When suffering with a sinusitis, consume a pain reliever (Tylenol, Advil, among others).
- If possible, use nasal dilators, which are available from pharmacies.