4 Ways to Decongest a Stuffy Nose

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4 Ways to Decongest a Stuffy Nose
4 Ways to Decongest a Stuffy Nose

Several factors lead to inflammation of the inner membranes of the nostrils and, consequently, cause nasal congestion: colds, flu, allergies and the like. Another symptom of the problem is the secretion of mucus that the body produces to protect itself from disease. The situation is always uncomfortable and makes normal breathing very difficult, but don't worry so much. You can resort to different treatments without leaving your home! As a last resort, seek medical attention if there are signs of infection, such as a fever, or if your young child is sick.


Method 1 of 4: Seeking Immediate Relief

Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 1

Step 1. Take a hot bath to dilute the mucus

The hot steam of water dilutes nasal secretions and makes breathing easier. If you want a quicker solution to the problem, just close the bathroom door and step under the hot shower for a while.

  • If you prefer, turn on the hot shower and stay in the bathroom with the door closed, but without getting wet.
  • You have the option of putting a cool air humidifier in the bedroom at night, at bedtime. Clean the device every week.
Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 2

Step 2. Apply saline spray or use the nasal pot

Anyone, including pregnant women, can prepare and use a little saline solution to reduce nasal congestion at home. Water removes mucus buildup and reduces inflammation in the airways.

  • Follow the application instructions if you buy the ready-made saline solution. In general, you need to spray the product once or twice every two or three hours.
  • You can even use a nasal pot (also known as a neti pot). Just do not fill the entire device or use tap water to prepare the saline solution, since it contains bacteria and amoebas that can lead to dangerous or even fatal conditions. Also, wash the pot after each use.
Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 3

Step 3. Use nasal dilators at night

Simply apply these patches to the bridge of your nose at bedtime to manually expand your nostrils and make breathing easier. Buy a box and use the accessories until you notice an improvement in your symptoms.

Buy boxes of adhesive dilators at any drugstore

Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 4

Step 4. Place a warm compress on your nose and forehead to reduce pressure on your sinuses

The heat opens the breasts and reduces tension in the area. Soak a washcloth in very hot water (but not to the point of burning your skin), lie down and place the tissue on the bridge of your nose, over your breasts, but without blocking your nostrils. As stated above, you can put the material on your forehead if you prefer. Wet the towel again when it starts to cool down.

Be patient and repeat this process a few times until you feel the effects. Use the treatment while listening to music, watching television, or doing something else relaxing

Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 7

Step 5. Take an over-the-counter decongestant or antihistamine, but under medical advice

These medications can greatly relieve congestion, depending on the cause of it. In any case, consult a doctor before resorting to anything of the sort. And be careful: if your child between 4 and 12 years old is sick, buy a decongestant or antihistamine made specifically for their age.

  • The decongestant is sold as a pill, liquid or spray and relieves swelling and inflammation in the air passages of the nose in cases of a cold. The spray is recommended for more limited uses, such as up to three consecutive days, due to the risk of a recurrence of the problem. The pills, in turn, can be taken for five to seven days in a row.
  • Anyone who has allergies, such as rhinitis, can take a generic or brand-name antihistamine recommended by the doctor. The drug relieves nasal congestion while resolving other symptoms such as sneezing. However, some versions of it have a feeling of tiredness as a side effect. Look for options that don't trigger anything over the top during the day or just take the medicine when you don't need to drive or operate heavy equipment.
  • Flixonase, Nasacort and other such sprays contain corticosteroids and also help reduce inflammation and congestion caused by allergies.

Method 2 of 4: Adjusting Your Habits

Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 8

Step 1. Be careful when blowing your nose

Do not blow your nose forcefully if it is clogged but not runny. You might even feel like trying to expel the mucus, but it's better to let it go. Do this only when there is constant discharge.

Heads up:

the membranes of the nostrils are delicate and become even more inflamed when the person blows their nose frequently. It seems counterproductive, but you'll improve faster if you don't push the envelope.

Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 9

Step 2. Hydrate to thin mucus naturally

Drink lots of fluids, especially when you're sick. Drink water, herbal tea or broth and always carry a small bottle in your bag or backpack.

  • Hot drinks also thin the mucus, as long as they're not about to burn your throat.
  • Avoid juice, soda and other sugary drinks. They don't contain healthy nutrients or necessary electrolytes, and to make matters worse, sugar affects the functioning of the immune system.
  • Avoid caffeine, present in coffee and certain teas. It also dehydrates the body.
Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 10

Step 3. Elevate your head when resting

Mucus will eventually accumulate in your sinuses if you lie on your back when resting or sleeping. Place a pillow or two under your head or lie down in a recliner.

If you are in the habit of sleeping on your stomach or on your side, start resting on your back, but with your head elevated

Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 11

Step 4. Avoid all irritants

Various substances can make nasal congestion worse, such as cigarette smoke. Do not smoke or be near someone who is smoking while your nose is blocked. If the condition is caused by an allergy, do everything possible to avoid common allergens (dust, animal hair, etc.).

See a doctor if you need help quitting smoking

Method 3 of 4: Treating Babies and Young Children

Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 12

Step 1. Use decongestant eye drops to loosen mucus

Place the child on a flat surface, with a towel rolled under her shoulders and her head slightly elevated. Drop a few drops of eye drops into each nostril. This solution dilutes the mucus particles, making it easier for your child to breathe.

  • You can also prepare the solution at home: mix ¼ teaspoon (1.5 g) of non-iodized salt and ½ cup (120 ml) of warm distilled or filter water.
  • If there is no other option, at least boil the tap water and allow it to cool before making the solution. Otherwise, you will end up carrying harmful, high-risk bacteria or amoebas into your child's nostrils.
Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 13

Step 2. Drain the mucus for the child to breathe better

If your child already knows how to blow their nose, ask them to do it carefully. If it's too small, use a bulb syringe to remove excess mucus from each nostril. Start by getting all the air out of the bulb; then insert the tip into one of the nostrils; release the bulb to drain the dirt, then remove the syringe and discard everything inside on a piece of toilet paper. Then just repeat on the other side.

If you prefer, you can form a cone with a piece of toilet paper and wrap around the nostrils. Do not stick cotton swabs in babies' and young children's noses

Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 14

Step 3. Place a cold air humidifier in your child's room

The humidifier thins the mucus and makes breathing easier. Fill it with water from the filter and place in the child's room overnight. Clean the device once a week to prevent the spread of germs.

If you don't have a humidifier at home, take your child to the bathroom and turn on the hot shower, but without getting the child wet. This alternative is even more effective if she has croup (sharp coughing)


do not use hot air humidifiers, which pose an increased risk of spreading bacteria and germs in the home.

Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 15

Step 4. Elevate your child's head at bedtime

Place a rolled towel under the mattress in the crib or bed. Rest the child's head in this area to facilitate the elimination of mucus and prevent accumulation in the nostrils.

Never elevate a child's head with a pillow. This increases her risk of having sudden infant death syndrome

Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 16

Step 5. Don't give your child cold medicine

Children under the age of four should not take over-the-counter cold medications. Many decongestants are associated with symptoms such as cardiac arrhythmia and irritability. Try to minimize your child's discomfort in other ways, but consult a pediatrician if the situation doesn't improve.

Method 4 of 4: Understanding the Right Time to Seek Medical Treatment

Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 17

Step 1. Seek immediate treatment if you experience pain in the sinus area and produce yellow or green mucus

This type of mucus can indicate an infection. In cases like this, the doctor has to rule out this possibility before indicating the best treatment.

  • Be careful: even a basic problem, like a stuffy nose from an allergy or a cold, can turn into a serious bacterial infection and cause serious damage. In that case, the doctor will prescribe a dose of antibiotics that will relieve the situation faster.
  • In rare cases, you can produce a red or reddish type of mucus. See a doctor immediately if this happens.
Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 18

Step 2. See a doctor if your nose is blocked for more than ten days

Since the problem usually resolves within a week, any symptoms that go beyond this period could indicate an infection. The doctor will rule out other possible causes, such as the flu, and prescribe the best treatment. See other signs of infection:

  • Fever of more than 38, 5 °C.
  • Sore throat.
  • Nasal discharge.
  • Nasal congestion.
  • Headache.
  • Body ache.
  • Fatigue.
Clear a Stuffy Nose Step 19

Step 3. Take your child to the pediatrician if he is less than three months old

Babies' immune systems are still developing, so it's normal for babies to get a stuffy nose from time to time. However, the condition can be serious if it is caused by a cold or an allergy. Anyway, don't worry so much: the doctor will advise you on what to do for the child's health.

  • Your doctor may recommend home treatment.
  • Go to the emergency room or make an appointment with your pediatrician immediately if your child develops a fever above 38°C. This temperature can be a sign of infection and it is best to find out if the child needs more powerful treatment.


  • If your nose is only blocked on one side, lie down facing the other and see if the situation improves.
  • Try chewing a candy or mint gum. Perhaps this will relieve inflammation and respiration.
  • Even breathing fresh air helps (unless you have rhinitis).
  • Rub coconut oil under your nose to moisturize dry skin and reduce irritation in the area. The oil has antimicrobial properties.
  • Buy menthol or eucalyptus essence and place in a bowl of boiling water. Put a towel over your head and around the edge of this bowl and breathe in the steam until the water cools.


  • Many people believe that consuming spicy products makes the situation worse, but that is not true.
  • Do not rub minty ointments on your chest. There is no scientific proof that they alleviate congestion and, to make matters worse, many have toxic ingredients.
  • Be careful not to burn the skin in the nostrils when using inhalers or natural steam.
  • Only prepare the saline solution using distilled or filter water. Tap fluid is full of bacteria and amoebas and can lead to infections. At the very least, boil the liquid and allow it to cool before preparing the solution.
  • Do not use hot air humidifiers. They spread bacteria.
  • Decongestants that contain pseudoephedrine are contraindicated for certain people.

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