People often attribute their discomfort to mucus build-up, but in reality, nasal congestion is caused by swollen blood vessels in the sinuses. When allergens or viruses irritate the nose, blood flow increases, swelling the nasal passages and making breathing difficult. Congestion can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as colds, allergies or even dry air.
The good news is that there are effective home remedies to relieve nasal congestion. Using humidifiers or vaporisers helps soothe nasal tissues, reducing swelling and thinning mucus. In addition, nasal irrigation with a neti pot and saline solution helps remove irritants and germs.
Inhaling steam, either in a hot shower or over a basin of hot water, can relieve sinus pressure and facilitate mucus drainage. Consuming vitamin C can help fight cold symptoms, while ginger may be helpful for allergy-related congestion.
Applying warm compresses to the nose and forehead soothes inflammation, and staying well hydrated helps thin mucus. At night, elevating the head with extra pillows and using nasal strips can improve breathing and reduce congestion. Remember to consult a doctor if congestion persists or worsens.
Adding Moisture to the Environment:
Using a humidifier or cool-mist vaporiser in your home or office is a simple and effective remedy for reducing nasal congestion. The moist air helps soothe irritated nasal tissues, reduces inflammation in the sinuses and thins mucus, making it easier to clear.
It is important to note that warm and cool mist machines are equally effective in increasing humidity and relieving congestion. However, for safety, it is recommended to use cool mist vaporisers for children, as hot water or steam from a hot steam humidifier can cause burns in case of close contact or spillage.
In any case, regardless of the type of unit you choose, it is essential to change the water daily and clean the unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent the growth of bacteria and mould.
Experiencing Nasal Irrigation
Rinsing the nasal passages using a device such as a neti pot, a technique known as nasal irrigation, can help loosen thick mucus and remove irritants, allergens and germs. To do this safely, it is important to fill the neti pot with sterile or distilled water, avoiding the use of tap water unless it has been boiled and cooled beforehand.
The neti pots come with specific instructions, but for the most part, the process is similar: fill the pot with a saline solution (made with warm, sterile water and salt), tilt the head to one side over a sink while keeping the forehead and chin level to prevent the liquid from flowing into the mouth, insert the spout of the neti pot into the upper nostril so that the liquid drains out of the lower nostril, and repeat the process on the other side.
Alternatively, a nasal spray bottle, which releases a fine mist of saline into the nose, may be helpful in soothing dry nasal passages, although, according to the FDA, it is not as effective as an irrigation device such as the neti pot in removing mucus, allergens and germs.
Take a Hot Shower
Have you ever noticed that when you have a cold, taking a shower can make you feel a lot better? That’s because inhaling steam helps relieve sinus pain and pressure by helping to drain mucus. You can get a similar effect by inhaling steam from hot water in a sink. Simply run hot water in the bathroom sink, place a towel over your head and place your head over the sink, being careful not to get too close to avoid burns. We can repeat this process several times throughout the day.
Experiment with natural decongestants
As for vitamin C, which is known to help reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms, it has been shown in some studies that it does not directly affect nasal congestion. However, if you are struggling with congestion related to a cold, taking extra vitamin C can help you overcome symptoms and feel better faster.
For congestion due to allergies, consuming ginger may be beneficial. One study found that a daily dose of 500 milligrams (mg) of ginger extract was as effective as an antihistamine such as loratadine (Claritin) in treating congestion caused by nasal allergies. Ginger is thought to have anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties. Although more research is needed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of ginger extract, it may be an option to try a daily cup of ginger tea to relieve allergy-related congestion.
Apply a warm compress
If you experience headaches or sinusitis due to congestion, you can try placing a warm compress directly on your nose and forehead. This can relieve swelling and pressure in the sinuses, providing relief.
We can take a warm compress, which can be heated in the microwave or simply soak a flannel or tea towel in warm water, squeeze out the excess and then place it over the nose, cheeks and forehead. Try this for 20 minutes and repeat as needed.
Drink more fluids
Although it won’t provide instant relief, drinking adequate fluids (avoiding alcohol) and staying well hydrated can help thin mucus in the nasal passages, making it easier for congested sinuses to drain.
Although some people choose to drink hot tea to relieve congestion, studies have shown that, in terms of nasal airflow, there is no noticeable difference between drinking a hot beverage or one at room temperature. However, it is curious that the group that consumed the hot drink reported greater subjective relief of cold symptoms compared to the group that consumed the drink at room temperature. Some researchers suggest that this may be due to the comforting factor of the warmth of the drink, which may enhance the experience of consuming it and ultimately make you feel better.
Renewing your night-time routine
Nasal congestion is often worse at night, as the face-down position when you lie down causes mucus to accumulate rather than drain. To address this problem, you can elevate your head with extra pillows to use gravity to your advantage rather than against you.
You can also place a cool-mist vaporiser or humidifier next to your bed to keep moisture in the air. Another option is to try a nasal breathing strip, which elevates the sides of your nose and can help open your nasal passages, making it easier to breathe during the night.
From Clinica Gran Alacant, we hope that all this advice has been useful to you. If your congestion does not stop, please call your family doctor, who will be happy to help you.