woman with nasal congestion blowing nose into a tissue
April 25, 2024

Nasal congestion is an unpleasant symptom that can be caused by viruses, bacteria, allergies, and lifestyle factors. It can result in breathing difficulty, headaches, and loss of sleep. While most people tend to blame excess mucus for congestion, it’s actually caused by inflamed blood vessels in the sinuses. When an irritant stimulates the nose, blood flow increases into the lining of the nasal cavity, causing the nasal passages to swell. This makes it harder to breathe and traps mucus. The key to treating nasal congestion is relieving the inflammation and thinning the mucus that are blocking your sinuses. Here are some of the most effective remedies for nasal congestion that you can try at home.

1. Hot Shower

steam coming off hot shower

Have you ever noticed that taking a shower when you’re sick can make you feel like a new person? This is because during your shower you’re breathing in steam coming off the hot water. Inhaling steam can help thin and loosen mucus and relieve inflammation to reduce sinus pain and pressure and make it easier to breathe for at least a little while. An alternative way to breathe in steam is leaning over a bowl or sink filled with hot water. Place a towel over your head to trap the steam so you can breathe it in to relieve some of your nasal congestion.

2. Warm Compress

Nasal congestion can cause pressure and pain in the sinuses, leading to uncomfortable headaches. A warm compress can help relieve some of the inflammation that is causing your pain. You can purchase a hot compress to heat up in the microwave, or you can make your own at home. Soak a towel or washcloth in warm water, squeeze out the excess, and place it over your cheeks, nose, forehead, and eyes. Try applying the warm compress for twenty minutes, then repeat as often as needed.

3. Nasal Irrigation

teal neti pot for nasal irrigation

Try rinsing out your sinuses with a nasal irrigation device like a neti pot to relieve nasal congestion. Flushing a saline solution through your nasal passages can remove irritants like allergens and germs, loosen mucus, and promote sinus drainage. Make sure you only use distilled or sterile water to make your saline solution to prevent infection. You can make your own saline solution at home using a cup of warm water, half a teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of baking soda. Then, use the neti pot to pour water into your nasal passages one nostril at a time while breathing through your mouth. The liquid will drain out through the other nostril.

4. Hydration

It’s very important to make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids when you’re suffering from nasal congestion. Staying hydrated will help thin mucus in the nasal passages, making it easier for blocked sinuses to drain. Additionally, your immune system needs fluids to transport infection-fighting cells to the affected areas so you can heal. Drink hydrating fluids like water, herbal tea, and fruit juice, and avoid dehydrating beverages that contain caffeine, alcohol, and excess sugars. If your nasal congestion is accompanied by a sore throat or cough, hot liquids like tea or broth may be best for their soothing effects.

5. Spicy Foods

bowl of assorted hot chili peppers

A common nasal congestion remedy is eating spicy foods. Some people find that eating spicy foods like chili peppers can help open up the nasal passages and provide some relief from sinus pressure and pain. Chili peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin, which is what causes the burning sensation. Capsaicin irritates the mucus membranes, resulting in a runny nose which can help soften blockages and promote drainage. Other spices such as horseradish and ginger also have natural decongestant properties and may help clear congestion.

6. Elevation

Most people will agree that nasal congestion typically feels worse at night. This is because when you are lying in bed, gravity can cause mucus to accumulate in your sinuses and throat without draining. To encourage healthy sinus drainage, try sleeping with your head elevated. Prop your head up with an extra pillow or two, or lift up the head of your bed to sleep on an incline. This will allow gravity to work for you instead of against you.

More Ways to Treat Allergy Symptoms

These are some of the best and most effective ways to treat nasal congestion at home. Nasal congestion is one of the most common symptoms of seasonal allergies, along with symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, tiredness, coughing, and others. If you want to find relief from congestion and other symptoms of seasonal allergies, check out these tips to combat seasonal allergies so you don’t have to be miserable all season long!