It’s kind of difficult to stay healthy this time of year (especially when people are walking around with the flu). The first thing that tends to happen when you get sick is congestion, so it’s important to learn how to get rid of a stuffy nose—and fast. Yes, you can use a nose spray or take some cold medicine, but sometimes it’s nice to go the all-natural route (and it’s also worth targeting just your nasal symptoms).
When we did a little research on congestion, we discovered that the nose has a system of blood vessels with valves that open and close. “When the nose is stimulated by any irritant, the nervous system is also stimulated, causing valves to open, which results in more blood entering the nose,” says Scott P. Stringer, MD, professor and chairperson of otolaryngology and communication sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. “This causes swelling in your nasal passages, which makes it difficult to breathe.”
Whether your symptoms are caused by allergies, a cold, or even a sinus infection, these tricks for how to get a rid of a stuffy nose totally work. Take your pick.
Use a nasal steam inhaler
A nasal steamer has pretty much completely changed my life. When I start to feel my nasal passages get clogged, I use this Vick’s steam inhaler. You can also get VapoPads with soothing menthol that fit right into the inhaler. Apparently, the menthol makes your brain think your nose isn’t clogged (pretty cool, right?). If you don’t have a steamer at home yet, a hot shower will work in a bind.
Try a nasal rinse
Although you don’t want to rinse your nose out too often, there are definitely some perks of using a nasal rinse with a saline solution. In fact, researchers found that adults who had chronic sinus issues and used nasal irrigation like nasal rinses had lessened symptoms than those who used saline spray after just two months. There are different options, ranging from a plastic rinse to even a Neti Pot. And for those who think it’s gross, it’s definitely a good alternative to being sick all the time.
Try hot and cold packs
Although there isn’t definitive research that says hot and cold packs are effective at treating nasal congestion, many people say they tend to help. If you don’t have an ice pack or hot pack at home, you can actually just use items you already have around the house. If you want something cold, a bag of frozen vegetables will do, while a damp washcloth dipped in hot water adds some heat (just make sure it’s not too hot).
Give DIY acupuncture a try
You don’t need to go to a professional or deal with needles to have acupuncture work in this situation. It’s all about finding the right pressure points—try putting your thumb and index finger on either side of the bridge of your nose and gently pressing. At the same time, you can also gently squeeze the skin at the top of your neck with your other hand.
Drink more H20
Really, there isn’t anything that water doesn’t make better, stuffy nose included. When you are properly hydrated, the mucus thins out in your clogged nasal passage. And don’t just stick to bottled water—everything from chicken soup to juice or tea will also help (just try to steer clear of too much caffeine).
Go for eucalyptus oil
Eucalyptus oil is super inexpensive and can be inhaled to relieve a stuffy nose a few different ways. You can put a few drops on a towel or handkerchief or add some to a pot of boiling water and then sniff, says David Williams, MD. “In addition to clearing the air passages, inhaling eucalyptus has been shown to cause an increase in the uptake of oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream,” he says. Just another perk.