Nasal congestion, also known as a “stuffy nose” or “blocked nose”, is the blockage of the nasal passages usually due to excessive secretion of mucus, leading to tissue swelling. The most common causes of nasal congestion are viral or bacterial infections.
Conditions such as common cold, influenza and sinus infections commonly result in a congested nose. In such cases, the congestion is likely to subside within a week. When nasal congestion lasts longer than one week, it may be due to allergic rhinitis, hormonal changes in the body, asthma, thyroid disorders, vasomotor rhinitis, nasal polyps or tumors.
Nasal congestion is not a serious problem but it can cause fatigue, sleep disorders, headaches and other problems that can negatively impact your quality of life. Fortunately, there are some home remedies that can help to get rid of a stuffy nose fast and naturally. Now let’s take a look at some of the best home remedies for nasal congestion.
1. Use a neti pot
A neti pot is a small teapot-like devices which is designed to flush mucus and fluids out of your nasal passages. It is filled with purified water and salt or salt-based (saline) solution.
When it comes to the solution, you can buy a pre-made sinus rinse. Or, you can make your own homemade saline solution. Simply combine one cup of sterile (distilled) water with 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized salt. You can also include a pinch of baking soda if you would like.
Although you can use plain tap water, it is recommended that you use sterile water to minimize the risk of infection. Tap water generally has small amounts of bacteria, protozoa, and other microorganisms, including amoebas. These are fine to swallow because the stomach acid kills them, but they should not go into the nasal passages. If they do, they can remain there, alive, and eventually cause serious infections.
To rinse the sinuses using a neti pot, tilt your head to one side and gently pour the mixture directly into one of your nostrils. Allow it to drain out through the opposite nostril. Repeat this process with the other nostril.
2. Use a humidifier
Cold and dry weather can lead to common cold and allergic symptoms and hence it is advisable to use a humidifier in the house. A humidifier adds moisture to the air, increasing the humidity in a room. Breathing in this moist air can soothe irritated tissues and loosen congestion in and around your nose. If you use humidifiers, be sure to monitor humidity levels and keep your humidifier clean. Dirty humidifiers can breed mold or bacteria.
3. Use a saline spray
Using a nasal saline spray can increase the moisture in your nostrils. The spray helps thin the mucus in your nasal passages. This decreases the inflammation of your blood vessels and helps empty fluids from your nose. Numerous saline sprays are available over the counter.
You can even make a homemade spray using salt. To make a nasal spray at home, add 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized salt and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to a cup of boiling water. Stir until the ingredients are dissolved and then allow it to cool. Pour it into a sterilized and then use. The saline solution can also be used for nasal irrigation.
4. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of fluids and staying well hydrated thins mucus in the nasal passages, pushing the fluids out of your nose and decreasing the pressure in your sinuses.
If your stuffy nose is accompanied by a sore throat, warm tea and soup will help ease congested sinuses. Peppermint tea also provide relief for nasal congestion due to colds, allergies, or a deviated septum.
5. Sip apple cider vinegar
If you have a congested nose, grab the apple cider vinegar. This all-around home remedy contains potassium, which thin mucus. The acetic acid in it prevents bacteria growth, which could contribute to nasal congestion. Mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink the solution to help clear your sinuses.
6. Try garlic
Garlic is one of the best home remedies for reducing nasal congestion. Garlic has powerful antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties which makes it a potent remedy for respiratory infections causing congestion.
Add fresh garlic to your favorite meals, or you can prepare a garlic soup by crushing 2-3 garlic cloves and adding them in a cup of boiling water. Take a cup daily until the nose blockage clears.
7. Eat chili pepper
The capsaicin in chili pepper helps clear nasal congestion by stimulating secretions of mucus. It also has antibacterial properties that can help fight against chronic sinus infections. Add chili pepper on your meals, or sip a spicy tea by adding 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder to a cup of boiling water.
8. Drink ginger tea
Ginger has been used for centuries to treat sinus problems. The compounds found in ginger are capable of inhibiting the secretion of mucus thereby easing respiration. Ginger is also a natural anti-inflammatory agent. It will aid in mucus drainage and reduce the swelling of nasal membranes.
To make ginger tea, add one teaspoon of freshly sliced ginger to two cups of boiling water in a saucepan. Let it steep for few minutes, and then strain the tea into a cup and drink it slowly while it is still warm.
Things to Avoid
Certain substances can worsen nasal congestion. It is best to refrain from consuming alcohol when suffering from a stuffy nose. Alcohol has a drying effect on the nasal passage and hence it can trigger inflammation of the blood vessels. Foods such as ice cream and dairy products like milk and cheese should also be avoided as these can thicken the nasal secretions and aggravate stuffiness.
Chlorine can cause irritation to the mucus membranes in the nose and hence it is advisable to avoid swimming in chlorinated pools when you have a stuffy nose.