5 Fast Ways to Unclog a Stuffy Nose
Say goodbye to nasal congestion with these simple but effective home remedies
Your nose is stuffed up big time, and you need relief now. Maybe you’re not a fan of over-the-counter (OTC) nasal decongestants because they make you feel jittery. Pseudoephedrine, which is in many OTC cold meds, can raise your blood pressure and cause dizziness and nervousness. Decongestant nasal sprays, meanwhile, offer only temporary relief and can actually worsen your symptoms when used for more than a few days.
To the rescue — home remedies for unstuffing your nose. Here are five to try.
1. Rinse away congestion
A neti pot is a nasal irrigation device that looks like a miniature Aladdin’s lamp. It’s designed to allow a saline solution to flow through your nasal passages to clear out secretions. “I recommend using a neti pot when you have a simple stuffy nose,” says Ileana Showalter, MD, an otolaryngologist at Mercy Medical Center in Boston. But, she cautions, make sure to follow these tips for safe use:
- Instead of making your own saline solution, use the pre-made ready-to-mix saline that’s recommended for the brand and size of the neti pot you’re using. This ensures that the ratio of saline to water is the ideal mix.
- Fill the neti pot with distilled water, or with lukewarm water that you’ve boiled and allowed to cool. Don’t use tap water since it’s not sterile.
- Wash the neti pot in hot soapy water after each use; rinse and dry well.
If you don’t relish the idea of using a neti pot, use a plain saline nasal spray that you buy at the drug store instead, advises Showalter.
2. Listen to grandma
Science has confirmed what Grandmas have been saying for decades: There’s nothing better than a nice hot bowl of chicken soup when you’re feeling all stuffed up. The University of Maryland confirms that sipping steaming hot chicken soup can loosen mucus and eases the congestion from a common cold. And don’t forget the nutrient-packed broth, carrots, onions and chicken are bound to make your body happy, too.
3. Try tomato “tea”
Sounds weird, but Martha Howard, MD, medical director of Wellness Associates in Chicago swears by this tasty home remedy for unclogging stuffy noses. It contains garlic, which has natural anti-bacterial properties. And capsaicin, the compound that gives hot sauce its heat, is a proven decongestant.
- 2 cups organic tomato-vegetable juice
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, crushed (more if you can stand it)
- 2 T lemon juice
- Hot sauce (as much as you can tolerate)
Mix well and heat in a saucepan. Sip while hot.
4. Shower away congestion
The hot, moist steam of the shower helps open up nasal passages, which then loosens the mucus clogging up your nose. Amp up a shower’s congestion-relieving action by adding a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil (available at drug and health food stores) to a damp washcloth, and placing it on the shower floor off to the side (so you don’t accidentally trip on it). As the steamy water hits the washcloth, the oils are released; inhale deeply and let the eucalyptus work its magic.
5. Take a steam
No time for a hot shower? You can get the same nose-clearing benefits from a portable steam plus eucalyptus: Just add five to 10 drops of eucalyptus oil to two cups of boiling water in a heat proof bowl. Sit over the bowl, “tent” your head with a towel to keep in the steam, making sure to keep your face several inches above the water. Inhale the fragrant steam for several minutes.