Treating Nasal Congestion

A multitude of factors can result in nasal congestion (or a stuffy nose) such as viral infections, colds, and contact with allergens. Everyone’s triggers are different, but they all experience the same bothersome nasal congestion symptoms.

The primary cause of that stuffiness is that when you are fighting a cold or are having a reaction to an allergen, the tissues along the nasal airways become swollen which incite them to produce excess mucus in an attempt to discharge whatever it is that is behind the inflammation.

Here are some essential tips to alleviate nasal congestion and improve your breathing.

Home Remedies

An essential part of relieving a stuffy nose is making sure your nasal tissues and airways retain enough moisture. Though some think that keeping your nose dry can simply stop a runny nose, this is, in fact, a common mistake. More dryness in the nasal tissues leads to more inflammation. Here are some tricks to prevent your nasal cavities from drying out:

– Have a hot shower and take in as much of the steam as you possibly can. You can also hold your face over a bowl containing hot water to inhale the vapor, which loosens the mucus, allowing for easier expulsion.  

– Invest in a humidifier or vaporizer. If you already have one, keep it running when you feel stuffed up.

– Consume lots of fluids to loosen mucus, which can relieve the obstruction in the sinuses.

– Try a nasal spray to keep your nasal tissues moist.

– Use a nasal irrigator or a neti pot, which is a highly effective way to unblock your nasal passages.

– Put a warm, damp towel over your face to serve as a compress, which can lessen discomfort.

– Holding your head propped up can allow you to breathe more easily.

– Chlorine is a known nasal irritant, so it may benefit you to stay out of chlorinated pools.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Some nonprescription medications available over-the-counter can be effective in improving congestion symptoms.  

For one, nasal decongestants relieve the inflammation in the nasal airways as well as improve sinus pressure. Some good examples nasal decongestant sprays are the ones that contain the active ingredients oxymetazoline (Afrin), pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), and phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine). Following the directions for use is paramount because the incorrect and long-term use of decongestants can worsen stuffiness. Decongestants mustn’t be used for longer than 3 days.

A second option is antihistamines, which is more effective in treating nasal congestion caused by allergies. Allergy medications that contain antihistamines can improve sneezing and a runny nose, and using a decongestant in combination can address the stuffiness.

Talk to your primary physician if your nasal congestion persists for longer than a week or if home remedies and over-the-counter drugs prove ineffective in relieving your symptoms.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© Tharakorn

Posted on May 22, 2023