Whether you’re battling allergies, fighting off a cold, or trying to get over the flu, there’s nothing more annoying than not being able to breathe due to nasal congestion. Depending on what’s causing it, congestion doesn’t have to mean a trip to the doctor. Here are some home remedies for congestion.
What is congestion?
Nasal congestion is another way to refer to a stuffy nose. While you may be dealing with mucus, the underlying problem is swelling and inflammation inside the nose. That’s why you can blow your nose all day long and still feel like you can’t breathe.
What causes congestion?
Many different things can cause congestion. Some examples include:
- Viral infections like the common cold, which is usually caused by rhinovirus.
- Allergic rhinitis is a condition where the body’s immune system responds to something that isn’t a real threat. Things that often cause allergic rhinitis (and the accompanying congestion) include dust, pollen, and pet dander.
- Occupational rhinitis, where a person reacts to a substance in their workplace. Chemicals, wood grain, and dust are common causes of occupational rhinitis.
- Pregnancy rhinitis. Pregnancy changes a woman’s body in a variety of ways, and swelling of the mucus membranes in the nose is one problem that changing hormones can cause in a pregnant woman.
- The flu has several different strains, and each strain may have different symptoms, but congestion is a common symptom of the flu.
- Sinus infection is a common cause for congestion.
Home remedies for congestion
While other symptoms you may be experience might need to be seen by a doctor, congestion can often be treated at home. Some home remedies for congestion include:
- Use a humidifier to thin out mucus, which makes it easier to get rid of. The extra moisture in the air also soothes irritated and swollen tissues in your nose.
- Taking a hot shower and inhaling the steam can have the same effect as a humidifier with the added benefits of being relaxing and soothing your muscles.
- Saline nasal sprays can also help thin mucus and reduce nasal swelling. Saline nasal sprays that also contain decongestants may be useful in the short term but you should not use them for more than three days.
- Drink plenty of fluids to thin out mucus. Anything that thins out mucus makes it easier to get rid of, which reduces pressure on the sinus cavities in and around your nose.
- Take allergy medication like antihistamines to reduce the symptoms of allergies, which can include nasal congestion.
- Flush your sinuses with something like a neti pot. This helps remove excess mucus.
- Use decongestants. There are many over-the-counter decongestants that can reduce swelling and relieve pain due to congestion. Coming in both nasal spray and pill formulations, decongestants are often kept behind the pharmacy counter and should not be taken longer than three days because they can make congestion worse after that time.
Think you may be experiencing symptoms of congestion? Book an appointment with a PlushCare physician and get a prescription today!