Nasal congestion is probably the most annoying symptom of the common cold and flu. However, nasal passages can also get clogged or blocked due to bacterial infections and allergic reactions. Living with a stuffy nose and chest filled with mucus can make daily tasks extremely challenging. If you’re looking to relieve nasal congestion without taking any medications, you’re in luck. Below, we’ve shared several simple and effective home remedies that quickly clear up your nasal passages. But, before that, let’s understand more about the symptoms and causes of nasal congestion.
Signs and symptoms
Nasal congestion, also known as rhinitis, is inflammation and swelling of the nasal cavity’s linings. The swollen nasal passages can restrict airflow, making breathing difficult. It can also make getting mucus out of your nose harder, contributing to its buildup. Excess mucus in the nasal passages gives you the “stuffy nose” feeling. Due to a blocked nose, your sense of smell and taste may diminish temporarily.
The viruses that cause the common cold and flu are among the most common causes of nasal congestion. These viruses often enter your body through your nose, where they multiply and spread across the nasal passages. Another common cause is your body’s allergic response to triggers such as dust, pollen, and pet dander. The response can cause swelling of your nasal tissue, leading to congestion. Other causes of nasal congestion include hay fever, nasal polyps, chemical exposure, environmental irritants, chronic sinusitis, and deviated septum.
Here are some of the most effective home remedies for nasal congestion:
- Stay well hydrated
This is the easiest way to relieve nasal congestion. Consuming plenty of fluids helps loosen thick mucus and promote drainage. Some health experts recommend consuming about 11.5 cups (for women) to 15.5 cups (for men) of fluids every day when you’re feeling congested. However, it’s crucial to avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages, as they promote dehydration.
- Inhale steam
Breathing in steam is a quicker way to loosen the mucus. Steam helps reduce congestion in the nose and chest, making breathing easier. All you have to do is pour hot water into a large bowl and then lean over the bowl to inhale the steam. While you’re doing this, ensure to drape a towel over your head and around the bowl to prevent steam from escaping.
- Apply a warm compress
Placing a warm, damp towel over your sinuses can help boost blood circulation and reduce inflammation in your nasal passages. The heat from the warm compress also helps melt thick mucus in your sinuses and promote its drainage, relieving nasal congestion. While applying a warm compress, make sure that the towel is comfortably warm and not hot so that you don’t burn your skin.
- Load up on spicy foods
Many people in different parts of the world eat lots of spicy foods to relieve nasal congestion. These foods help thin mucus, making it easier to flush out of your nose. Chilli peppers are among the best spices to add to your diet when feeling sick. It contains capsaicin, a compound that can help open up your nasal passages and soothe sinus pain and pressure. Other spices to add to your diet include turmeric, garlic, and ginger. These spices have anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce sinus inflammation.
- Drink warm teas and soups
A cup or a bowl of hot tea or soup in a day can provide relief from a stuffy nose. Since tea and soups count as fluids, they increase hydration and further help relieve nasal congestion. Experts advise brewing a cup of hot tea with lemon and honey to fight off congestion. Chicken soup has also long been touted for sinus congestion. It contains an amino acid called cysteine, which helps thin mucus.
- Try apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another natural decongestant. You can enjoy its benefits in the form of a drink, or inhale its fumes, or gargle with it. If you can’t drink it alone, prepare a concoction by mixing 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in 6 ounces of water and add 2-4 teaspoons of honey to it. You can have this drink 2 or 3 times a day.