Treating Nasal Congestion

Nasal congestion, commonly known as a stuffy nose, congested nose, or stopped-up nose, is a common health problem that affects millions of people. It occurs when there is a blockage of the nasal passage, usually when the membrane lining inside of the nose becomes swollen from inflamed blood vessels. While nasal congestion may just be a minor annoyance in older children and adults, in many infants, nasal congestion can pose serious health risks. Nasal congestion has many causes and ranges in severity.


Nasal congestion is commonly caused by allergic rhinitis, or hay fever. This occurs when pollen, dust, mold spores, or other allergens are inhaled and irritate the nasal passage. Other causes of nasal congestion include the common cold or flu, a deviated septum, sinusitis or sinus infections, reaction to certain medications. Additionally, nasal congestion occurs in many women during pregnancy. In many individuals, nasal congestion is caused by food allergies. Those who are lactose intolerant often find themselves suffering from a stuffy nose. Your doctor can conduct allergy tests to identify your specific type of food allergy and recommend a new diet. Reducing the amount of dairy in your diet in addition to carbohydrates and sugar can improve the quality of your diet and reduce nasal congestion.
Stuffy Nose Remedies


A stuffy nose, or nasal congestion, is just, a feeling as though your nose is stuffed with something. Symptoms may include difficulty breathing through your nose, a runny nose, and sneezing. Those who suffer from severe nasal congestion can have trouble in sleeping, speaking, and hearing and even experience bothersome snoring.

When to See a Doctor

It is usually not necessary to see a doctor when you experience nasal congestion. You need to seek medical attention if you experience other symptoms such as blurred vision, swelling of the eyes or forehead, a cough that produces yellow or green mucus, a bloody nose, or if your congestion lasts longer than 2 weeks.

Home Remedies

There are many home remedies used to relieve nasal congestion. Simple remedies include using an allergy filter in your air conditioner, using a vaporizer with additives such as vinegar, and dusting regularly. Dusting and allergy filters help to reduce nasal congestion caused by allergies and hay fever while vaporizers work to open the sinuses up using steam.

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Many home remedies for relieving nasal congestion center around spicy or strong foods. In many cultures, chicken soup is the perfect cure for nasal congestion. Adding black or red pepper in the chicken soup can help to open up the sinuses, allowing for the inflammation of the nose to decrease. Many spicy foods such as curries, Chinese soups, and Mexican dishes contain peppers and spices that can help relieve congestion. These foods may cause your nose to run, so be sure to keep tissues near you.

Vapor Rub

Vapor rub contains menthol, which helps to temporarily open the nasal passages. Rub a small amount of the vapor rub on your chest or under nostrils works to soothe and relieve congestion. There are many different brands of vapor rub, but all are very similar so any brand will work.

Hot Drinks

Drinking hot drinks such as green tea can help to reduce nasal congestion. The steam from the drink opens up the nasal passages and many warm liquids such as tea or chicken soup are old cures for colds. Try to avoid consuming too much caffeine as it can cause congestion to worsen.

Elevate Your Head

Often, nighttime can be the worst period for nasal congestion. Lying down can also aggravate nasal congestion. Elevating your head with extra pillows at night can help the nose to drain better and open up clogged nasal passages.

Hot Compresses

Placing a hot, moist towel under your eyes encourages sinus drainage. This can relieve congestion and pain associated with allergies or a cold. You can apply warm compresses several times a day as needed to relieve the congestion. Gently pressing on the hot compress can shift the facial bones to allow for better sinus drainage.


When you have nasal congestion, often the best relief is taking a hot shower. The steam from the shower opens up the nasal passageways. You can boil a pot of water on the stove and carefully breathe in the steam to help reduce nasal congestion.

Tomato Tea

Tomato tea works to open the sinuses and give the body a much-needed boost of vitamin C to help improve the immune system. Combine a cup of tomato juice, V8 works great, a teaspoon of minced garlic, ½ a teaspoon of hot sauce, and a teaspoon of lemon juice. You can heat the ingredients in a pot on the stove or in a container in the microwave. Be sure to drink the tomato tea hot. The tomato juice contains large amounts of vitamin C, which helps the immune system. Garlic also works to help fight infection. The hot sauce works to open up the sinuses and reduce nasal congestion.

Oil of Oregano

Oil of oregano is an essential oil known for its ability to strengthen the immune system and improve respiratory health. You can add 2 or 3 drops of oil of oregano to your favorite juice and drink it 3 or 4 times a day to treat nasal congestion. The juice can help boost the immune system in addition to the oil of oregano. You can also add 8 drops of oil of oregano to hot water and breathe in the steam. This will help to open up the nasal passageways to reduce nasal congestion.

Nasal Sprays

Nasal sprays are a great way to relieve the pressure and difficulty breathing associated with nasal congestion. These sprays can be purchased over the counter, prescribed by a physician, or even homemade.

Over-the-Counter Sprays

Nasal sprays such as Afrin offer decongestant properties and work to quickly relieve the nose of congestion. Zicam and Vicks offer a more natural nasal spray. The side effects of these over-the-counter sprays include dizziness, burning, drying of the sinuses, and sneezing. These sprays are available at most supermarkets, drug stores, and pharmacies. Costing approximately $6 US per bottle, over-the-counter sprays are an inexpensive cure for nasal congestion.

Prescription Sprays

For more severe cases of congestion, a physician may prescribe a nasal spray. Products such as Nasonex and Omnaris offer relief from allergies and allergy-caused nasal congestion. Atrovent is used to treat severe nasal congestion in individuals who also suffer from lung problems such as COPD and emphysema.
Side effects of these medications include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Bitter taste
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety.

Prescription nasal sprays can be expensive; however, many insurance companies or prescription medical plans can assist in reducing the cost of these medications. Do not take these sprays if you have certain heart conditions, are on medication for hypertension, have high blood pressure, or have thyroid disease.


Saline Solution Saline spray is one of the most common treatments for nasal congestion. It is available in supermarkets, drug stores, and grocery stores. You can even make your own saline solution easily and with little cost. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and pour in 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized salt and a 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. Stir lightly until the salt and baking soda is diluted, leaving the water a bit cloudy in color. Allow the solution to cool until it is at room temperature and place in a clean and sterilized 8-ounce container. You can use this solution in a neti pot or with a nasal bulb.

Tea Tree Oil

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add approximately 8 drops of tea tree oil. Pour the tea tree oil solution into a bowl and inhale the steam. You can place a towel over your head to create a tent, which will catch the vapors and help to open up the sinus passages.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Placing 8 ounces of warm water into a glass bowl or container, add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a ¼ teaspoon of non-iodized salt. Mix the solution together until the salt has dissolved. Gently tilt your head back and use an eyedropper or nasal bulb to put the solution into your nasal cavity. Breath deeply with your head back, ensuring the solution is able to work to clear the congestion. Then, blow your nose; this will rid your nose of mucus and congestion.

Decongestant Pills

Decongestant pills work to alleviate the nose of congestion. Psuedophedrine and phenylephrine are the most common active ingredients in decongestant pills. Phenylephrine acts directly to reduce inflammation while pseudophedrine acts indirectly on the adrenergic receptors, which helps to reduce the swelling of the blood vessels in the nose. Decongestants are typically paired with antihistamines to treat the two main causes of nasal congestion. Some common brands of decongestants are Claritin D, Sudafed, and Mucinex D.

These pills can be purchased at local supermarkets, drug stores, and pharmacies. They are relatively inexpensive, costing $8 to $12 US per box, depending on the amount and dosage size. The side effects of these medications include dizziness, anxiety, fatigue, stomach cramps, nervousness, and an increased heart rate. Do not take decongestant pills if you certain heart conditions, are on asthma medication, have high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease.

Risk Factors

Those with a weakened or suppressed immune system, young children, infants, and the elderly are at a higher risk of contracting the flu or a cold. This can lead to nasal congestion. Those with allergic rhinitis are extremely likely to suffer from chronic and prolonged nasal congestion. Women who are pregnant can experience nasal congestion due to the increased blood flow throughout the body. Newborn infants often suffer from nasal congestion, which can potentially be harmful. Infants can only breathe through their noses and nasal congestion can interfere with breastfeeding or cause difficulty breathing.


Preventing nasal congestion can be easy. In the winter months, be sure to keep your home comfortably humid with a humidifier. Dry air can aggravate the nasal passageways and cause inflammation. Dusting and riding your home of pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mold, and fungi can reduce exposure to harmful allergens that can cause congestion. Consuming vitamin C can help to boost the immune system to prevent colds. Colds and the flu commonly cause nasal congestion; with a healthy immune system, you are less likely to experience bothersome nasal congestion.

What to Avoid

Certain foods and activities can aggravate and worsen nasal congestion. Always avoid consuming alcohol when experiencing nasal congestion. Alcohol can dry out the nasal passage and increase the rick of inflammation of the blood vessels in the nose. Additionally, avoid swimming in chlorine pools. The chlorine can irritate the mucus membranes in your nose and cause inflammation.

Many foods can cause a stuffy nose, so try to avoid food such as ice cream, cheese, and milk when you have nasal congestion. Caffeine can irritate and dry the nasal passages, further causing nasal congestion.

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  • Reply Dinesh

    I have nasal discharges that include a comnination at times of – thick/watery, white/yellow, mostly mornings.

    Tried many allopathic pills and nasal sprays.

    Need to know natural remedies or homeopathic or Ayurvedic remedies

  • Reply m.salahu

    send me some usefull videos vo my mail

  • Reply Jim

    I found the most effective treatment for me was colloidal silver in a nasal spray bottle. I have suffered from sinus infections and nasal congestion from allergies all my life. For more information about colloidal silver, please visit me site. Thanks

  • Reply Diana Mossop

    My belief is that nasal congetion is caused by the blocking of the Ethmoidal sinus and is linked with emotion, particularly that of unshed tears. All those emotions that we bottle up inside because we cannot deal with them.
    Silent crying in the night or trying to cope with loss of self worth because people are being cruel to us.
    it is also a virus called Herpes Simplex but virus are emotional opportunists and often affect us when we are sad.

  • Reply Maria

    Hi, my problem is that I have too much acid in my stomach I am taking pepcin for it, it helps but the problem still there. Is there any natural cure for it? And what is the problem inside me? why do I have too much acid in my stomach? they removed my gold-bledder many years ago. How can you help me? What can I do, to cure definitively this problem?

  • Reply Niyi Animasaun

    I am 34yrs old man from Nigeria, i have been experience nasal cavity blockage more than 2yrs ago, i cannot breath thru my nose, i only breath thru my mouth, it has really embarasing me wit a heavy snoring and talking to de extent dat nobody ready to sleep beside me again,
    I went to see a doctor and he said i have to undergo a surgery dat will cost me a lot of money, #400,000naira, plz what do i do , am from a poor family, my father is late and i wuz left wit a poor widow, pls what can i do to keep my hope alive. I need ur advice, am dying.

  • Reply Bobby

    This is just the occasional minor inconvenience for me. I rarely ever contract flu or illness nowadays… my immune system has build up a resilient shield against common allergies. I suppose too much exposure has caused the nasal congestion but I already ingested chicken soup and taken a hot shower…. steam I find is the utmost greatest remedy of all… it’s free and organic… well, not free considering hydro bills but still…

  • Reply Hernando Esquivel

    I suffer from rhinitis and was suffering for about 10 to 15 years.
    The only medication I was taking was fenergan but made me to sleep.
    I found that Turmeric works very well and I am not sneezing any more. I must continue to take a low quantity now; about one teaspoon daily. As a spray when I need it, I use A. Vogel “Echinaforce” which is a extract of Echinacea; I mix at 50% with distilled water.

  • Reply susan

    I do get stuffed up, find it hard to sleep on my back. Symptoms include watery eyes in the morning and breathing difficulty (snoring). The best remedy for me is using a neti pot. Sea salt and warm water. It’s easy, affordable and it works wonders.

  • Reply Uzma Ahmad

    TO NIYI,

    I also suffered from the condition that you have 12 years ago and I could not simply breathe through my nose for 4 or 5 months, only a spray was my rescue, it use to work for 4 hours than I had to re-apply in order to breathe through my nose, then one of my relative took me to a homeopathic doctor, he gave me a dose of medicine right away and he made some for me to take it for a week, i was able to breathe through my nose naturally within 3 days, since then I do get stuffy nose because of my allergies but this condition does not last more than 4 or 5 days, even though I have to use the same spray to get my nose opened but this condition does not persists, so my friend homeopathic is the only thing that could cure your condition for good.
    Find a homeopathic doctor in your area and talk to them about your condition because english medicines does not cure it from the root.

  • Reply Sarah Nuernberger

    I love to use my Neti Pot with a drop of tea tree oil. Why is the Neti Pot not listed as a treatment?

  • Reply tfs

    Hi Kim,
    How many of these remedies might also apply to children (like a 4-year-old, for example)?

    Many thanks,
    TF Shaw

  • Reply Luke Smith

    I didn’t realize that there were prescription nasal sprays available for cases of severe congestion. I imagine working directly with a healthcare professional would be the best way to decide which type of spray should be used in any specific situation. Thanks for these tips, my wife has been experiencing a lot of congestion this fall and will appreciate them.

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