A stuffy nose can be annoying as well as uncomfortable.
It is common belief that a stuffy nose is a result of excessive mucus in the nasal passages. But, in reality, it is due to inflamed blood vessels in the sinuses, which can be due to a common cold, allergies or the flu. Sometimes it is also caused by a sinus infection.
Both children and adults can suffer from this annoying problem. However, a stuffy nose is a serious concern for infants, as it may lead to breathing difficulty.
A stuffy nose is often accompanied by other symptoms including coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, sinus pain, mucus buildup in the nasal passages, watery eyes, a hoarse voice, a headache and also a mild fever.
If left untreated, a stuffy nose can cause other problems like restlessness, an ear infection or sinus problems. There are many effective home remedies that can clear out your nasal passages and bring relief from a stuffy nose.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for a stuffy nose.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
One of the best remedies for a stuffy nose is apple cider vinegar.
First of all, its high potassium content helps thin the mucus. Plus, the acetic acid in it prevents bacterial growth and speeds up the healing process.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of raw honey in a cup of warm water. Drink this tonic twice daily.
- Mix together ½ cup each of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove it from the stove. Put a towel over your head and inhale the steam for 3 to 5 minutes with your mouth and eyes closed. Repeat a few times a day.
2. Steam Inhalation
Whether it is plain steam inhalation or infused with herbs or essential oils, it is a highly effective remedy for instant relief from a stuffy nose.
Steam inhalation works as a natural expectorant to clear the blockage. It will also bring relief to the inflamed blood vessels in the sinuses by keeping them moist.
- Fill a pan with water, heat it until it boils and then turn the heat off.
- Optionally, add a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil to the hot water
- Put a towel over your head and lean over the pan so that no steam escapes.
- Slowly breathe in and out, inhaling the steam for a few minutes.
- Do this 2 to 4 times a day.
Note: This remedy is not suitable for children younger than 12 years, pregnant women and those suffering from high blood pressure, a heart condition or a central nervous system disorder.
3. Nasal Irrigation
Though not the most preferred remedy, nasal irrigation is very effective at treating a stuffy nose and nasal congestion.
Nasal irrigation helps break up the congestion in your nose by thinning out the mucus. It also increases the moisture in your nostrils, which in turn helps reduce the inflammation of your blood vessels.
In fact, a 2016 study published in Canadian Medical Association Journal notes that nasal irrigation can help relieve symptoms in patients with chronic sinus congestion, in which case, the researchers did not find steam inhalation as effective.
- Mix 3 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
- Place the mixture in an airtight container for storing.
- Add 1 teaspoon of this mixture to 1 cup of lukewarm boiled or distilled water.
- Fill a bulb syringe with this solution.
- Lean your head over a basin and gently squirt the solution into one nostril, while keeping the other one closed by applying light pressure with your finger.
- Allow the water to drain from the other nostril by releasing the finger pressure.
- Repeat the process with the other nostril.
- Use this remedy once or twice daily.
4. Warm Compress
Another effective way to keep mucus thin so that it drains smoothly from your nose is applying a warm compress.
The warmth from the compress also provides comfort from any pain and helps relieve the inflammation in the nostrils.
- Soak a towel in a bowl of hot water.
- Squeeze the excess water out of the towel.
- Fold it and place it over your nose and forehead.
- Repeat as often as necessary.
5. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is a natural decongestant, meaning it helps loosen phlegm or mucus from the lungs, making it easier to rid yourself of it.
The natural chemical capsaicin in cayenne pepper will help relieve the swelling and inflammation that is narrowing your nasal passages.
- Pour ¼ cup of lemon juice and ¼ cup of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a pot and allow it to simmer. Stir in ¼ to ½ teaspoon each of cayenne pepper and powdered ginger. Finally, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of raw, organic honey and mix thoroughly. Store the mixture in a jar. Have 1 to 2 tablespoons of it daily as needed.
- You can also add ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder to a cup of boiling water. Sip a cup of this tea a few times a day.
- You can also sprinkle cayenne pepper on your favorite meals.
Garlic is another good remedy to cure a stuffy nose.
It has decongestant and expectorant properties that will help get rid of the blockage. It also helps reduce the inflammatory symptoms and strengthens the immune system, which in turn helps to clear the blockage and fight the infection.
- Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add 2 to 4 garlic cloves to the boiling water and let them simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Then, add ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder and give it a good stir. You can also add a little black pepper powder to it. Have this soup 1 or 2 times daily.
- Alternatively, make a paste of 3 to 5 garlic cloves, add 2 teaspoons of raw honey to it and have it 2 or 3 times a day.
- Including fresh garlic cloves in your cooking can also help relieve stuffiness and discomfort.
Ginger contains high anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce a stuffy nose problem. It loosens up the mucus, while also giving a boost to the immune system.
It also helps warm the body and provides relief from other symptoms associated with a stuffy nose.
- Add 1 teaspoon of freshly sliced or grated ginger to 2 cups of boiling water in a saucepan. Cover and simmer it over low heat for 10 minutes. Consume 1 cup of this solution while it is still warm and eat the ginger slices. In the remaining water, soak a washcloth and apply it over your nose and forehead while lying down with your head elevated by a pillow. Do this twice daily.
- Alternatively, mix together 1 tablespoon of grated ginger and 1 teaspoon each of fresh lemon juice and raw honey. Have it 2 or 3 times a day.
8. Massage Therapy
To soothe a blocked nose and improve breathing, massaging the nostrils is a simple yet highly effective remedy.
Massage will increase circulation to the area and thin out the mucus. It will also help reduce the pain.
- Warm some mustard oil or olive oil.
- Sit in a semi-reclining position and apply the oil on your nose.
- Using your left thumb and index finger, apply slight pressure on the area next to the inner eyes on both sides of your nose, bridge of the nose and around the cheekbones for about 20 seconds.
- Then release the pressure.
- Repeat the cycle 5 to 7 times.
- Follow this process several times daily.
Note: When performing this massage make sure you are breathing through your mouth, not your nose.
Peppermint contains menthol that helps stimulate nerve receptors in the nose, which in turn makes breathing easy and comfortable.
In addition, peppermint helps thin the mucus and open up nasal passages to restore your breathing to normal.
Here are several ways you can make use of peppermint.
- Add a few drops of peppermint oil to a pot of hot water and inhale the steam.
- Put a few drops of peppermint oil on your handkerchief and inhale the aroma frequently.
- Mix a few drops of peppermint oil with 2 teaspoons of coconut oil. Rub it on your nose to unclog your sinuses and enjoy relaxed breathing.
- Enjoy a warm cup of peppermint tea 2 or 3 times daily. To prepare the tea, steep 1 teaspoon of fresh or dried peppermint leaves in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes. You can sweeten your peppermint tea with raw honey to improve its taste as well as infection-fighting benefits.
Air that is too warm or too moist can aggravate the symptoms of a blocked nose. Hence, adjusting the humidity in your house with the help of a humidifier can provide a quick, easy way to reduce sinus pain and relieve a stuffy nose.
The sinuses prefer moist warm environment, which is around 35 to 45 percent humidity. Adjust your humidifier to the preferred setting so that the environment turns moist but not too moist.
Breathing in this moist air can soothe irritated tissues and swollen blood vessels in your nose and sinuses. It can also thin the mucus in your sinuses, which in turn helps empty the fluids in your nose and return your breathing to normal.
Make sure to put a humidifier in your room where you sleep.
- You can stand under a hot shower until there is an adequate buildup of hot steam. Inhale this steam in order to get relief from the blockage.
- Take a decongestant, antihistamine or allergy medication only after consulting your doctor.
- Keep away from typical aggravations, such as tobacco smoke and sudden temperature changes.
- Regularly blow your nose gently to expel the mucus. Avoid sniffling mucus back into your head.
- Increase your intake of spicy foods to facilitate the flow of mucus from the nasal passages.
- Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. It will also help break up your congestion and keep your throat moist.
- Hot chicken soup also helps fight a stuffy nose. You can also drink vegetable soup to heal up quickly.
- Use an extra pillow under your head while sleeping to help relieve congested nasal passages.
- To soothe the inflamed lining of your nose and throat, drink warm water and other soothing warm beverages.
- Do not smoke, as it can worsen the condition.
- Get proper rest when you first come down with a cold or the flu to help your body fight off the infection.
- If your stuffy nose and other symptoms of congestion last for more than 3 weeks, make sure to consult your doctor.