A stuffy nose is a mild respiratory illness. Quite often, flu and similar health conditions are accompanied by stuffy noses. It is a fairly common condition, and Allergic Rhinitis affects 8% of adults (1) in the US alone!
Globally speaking, about 10 to 20 percent of the global population(2) suffer from allergy-related nasal congestion. However, the situation can irate personal and professional life, and also disrupt productivity. You will notice that your voice comes funny, you are unable to smell, and loss in appetite. Even blowing your nose does not bring any relief.
Did You Know?
|“Rhino” is the Greek word for nose, and “-itis” is a suffix used to denote inflammation. Thus, Rhinitis is the Greek word for inflammation of the nasal lining!|
In some cases, it can also be an underlying symptom of chronic nasal or respiratory illness.
Here, natural remedies play a vital role in preventing and treating the stuffy nose and its related symptoms. Read on to know useful tips on how to cure a stuffy nose.
Causes of Nasal Congestion
If you have ever suffered from nasal congestion, you may have felt as if the mucous has clogged your nostrils and nasal passages. But, a stuffy nose is a result of inflamed or swollen blood vessels in the sinus.
|A sneeze can travel at the speed of 30 to 60 miles an hour, and can fly 30 feet through the air!|
These blood vessels may be triggered by a variety of reasons such as cold, allergies, or flu. Some common culprits behind a stuffy nose are:
- Influenza (Flu)
- Hay fever
- Yeast overgrowth
- Nasal polyps or benign tumors
- Environmental allergens or irritants
- Exposure to chemicals
- Chronic sinusitis
- Deviated septum
- Overuse of nasal spray
- Hormonal changes
Amongst all the causes cited above, allergies account for the largest portion of all Rhinitis (nasal congestion) cases with prevalence ranging from 10 to 40 percent(3)!
Signs and Symptoms of Nasal Congestion
While a stuffy nose, by itself, is a symptom of a health condition, it is also accompanied by other health complications that act as its symptoms. Some common signs that accompany nasal congestion include:
- A runny nose
- Mucus buildup
- Swelling of the nasal tissues
- Pain in the sinus
- Breathing difficulties
- Watery eyes
Natural Ways to Clear a Stuffy Nose
Now that you know the common causes and symptoms of a stuffy nose, it is time to explore the best ways to relieve a stuffy nose.
Below listed are a few natural remedies to get rid of a stuffy nose:
CURE 1: Home Remedies
Here is a list of home remedies that will help you get rid of a stuffy nose.
1. Warm Compress
Warmth and heat have always been associated with comfort and well-being. As such, it also emerges as a cure for a stuffy nose. The heat that comes out from the warm compress reduces the swelling and inflammation of the nasal passage and sinus. Reducing the inflammation decongests your stuffy nose and makes it easier to breathe(4).
- A clean towel.
- A bowl of hot water.
- Soak the towel in hot water and squeeze out the excess.
- Place the towel on your face, primarily covering your nose and forehead.
- Repeat for 3-4 times.
Follow this routine 2-3 times daily until the stuffiness goes away.
2. Salt Water and Neti Pot
Passing saline water through your nostrils is called nasal irrigation. Nasal irrigation clears up a stuffy nose as it gets rid of the excess mucous lining the nasal cavity.
The warmth of the water soothes the lining and prevents swelling in the nostrils. Further, it removes any foreign contaminants that may be causing an allergic reaction. It is particularly effective against stuffy nose(3) caused due to allergies, sinusitis, and cold. Neti pot is a special container that can cleanse your nose.
- A neti pot
- A cup of warm, distilled water
- Half a teaspoon of salt
- Mix the salt in the warm water and pour it into the neti pot.
- Bend over and tilt your head over a sink. Place the spout of the neti pot against one nostril and pour out the solution.
- The water will trickle out of your lower nostril.
- Repeat the process with the other nostril.
|Neti Pot has its origin in India. In Sanskrit, “Neti” means “nasal cleansing”! Today, it has a huge global audience.|
NOTE: While cleansing your nasal passage, breathe through your mouth. Further, remember to rinse and air dry your neti pot after every use.
You could try out this remedy twice a day, daily until your condition improves.
3. Chicken soup
Chicken soup is one of the most delicious ways to get rid of a stuffy nose. The hot steam of the soup helps to break apart mucus in the nasal passage. Chicken also fosters mucus clearance, thus evading a stuffy nose and stuffy nose allergies.
- Two cups of water
- Eight tbsp. chicken bouillon granules
- Half a cup of uncooked egg noodles
- Two cans of undiluted condensed cream of chicken soup
- Three cups cooked chicken, cubed
- One cup sour cream
- Minced parsley
- In a large pan bring water and bouillon to a boil
- Add noodles, cook uncovered
- Cook till tender for about ten minutes
- Add soup and chicken
- Heat well
- Add sour cream after removing from heat
- Sprinkle with minced parsley
4. Tomato juice
Tomato juice acts as an equally fantastic remedy for how to get rid of a stuffy nose. It helps to open up the sinus passages and reduces inflammation in your nasal passage.
How to use it?
- Grind 4-5 tomatoes to make fresh juice from them
- Now add a tbsp of garlic and a tbsp of salt to this juice
- Drink this juice at least twice a day
5. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is extracted from the dry coconut kernels. The fatty acids in coconut oil can offer a host of health benefits. The topical application of coconut oil alleviates the decongestant effects that may cause a stuffy nose. The effectiveness of coconut oil is a result of its antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, and moisturizing(4) action of coconut oil.
- A teaspoon of cold-pressed virgin coconut oil.
- Warm the oil and apply it to the sides of your nose.
- Let it sit until your skin absorbs it.
Apply the coconut oil two to three times a day.
|Coconut oil can help you in losing weight. It is due to the presence of medium-chain triglycerides, which increases the calories burnt in 24 hours by a whopping 5 percent!|
The pungent character of lemon will clean up the clogged mucus and gives you instant relief.
How to use it?
- Mix two tbsp of lemon juice with half a tbsp. of black pepper and a pinch of salt
- Apply this mixture on your nose
- Leave it for a few minutes for best results
CURE 2: Herbal Treatment
Garlic is an extremely potent home remedy ingredient to treat cold and cough. It possesses antimicrobial and expectorant(5) properties, which help with nasal congestion. Further, its anti-inflammatory properties(6) reduce the swelling and inflammation present in the nostrils.
- Five cloves of crushed garlic.
- A bowl of water.
- A clean towel.
- Bring the water to a boil and drop in the crushed garlic cloves inside it.
- Let it simmer for about 3-5 minutes and take it off the heat.
- Position your face above the water and inhale the garlic-infused steam.
- Use the towel to cover your head.
Follow this remedy at least twice a day to relieve a stuffy nose.
|On average, a person consumes about two pounds of garlic in a year, which equals 302 cloves of garlic per person per year!|
When dealing with a common cold or flu, drinking fluids is of utmost importance. However, warm beverages offer more comfort. Here are a few drinks that will help with a stuffy nose:
2. Ginger Tea
The potency of ginger against cold and cough is rather well-known. The spicy punch of ginger may be consumed in its tea form. Preparing ginger tea could significantly relieve the symptoms of a stuffy nose.
Why Does it Work?
Ginger is rich in antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory compounds(7), which could even solve chronic stuffy nose issues. It not only reduces the swelling of the nasal cavity but also fights the microbes that cause it.
- One inch of ginger.
- Two cups of water.
- Bring the water to a boil and add ginger to it.
- Allow the water to simmer for about 3 minutes.
- Strain out the water and allow the solution to cool.
- Drink it while it is warm.
Drink this concoction at least twice a day until the symptoms subside.
Ginger belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, which means that it is closely related to turmeric and cardamom! Also, a ginger plant can grow as tall as 4 feet!
3. Peppermint Tea
Peppermint tea is one of the common and widely used herbal teas(8) around the world. Those who drink peppermint tea vouch by its effectiveness against stomach ailments. The menthol in peppermint tea is capable of decongest(9)ing the airways and makes breathing easier. Further, the anti-inflammatory(10) property relieves all the symptoms of nasal congestion.
- Ten leaves of peppermint leaves.
- Two cups of water.
- Soak the peppermint leaves in the water.
- Bring the water to a boil and let the leaves simmer for about 3-7 minutes.
- Strain out the tea and drink it while it is still warm.
You may drink this tea twice a day daily.
4. Holy basil
Holy basil rekindles the immune system of the body and alleviates the congestion in the nasal passage. It also helps in preventing or treating infections that may cause a stuffy nose.
- A quarter of a cup of basil leaves
- One tbsp. of honey
- Two tbsp. of lemon juice
- Add one and a half cup of water to a pan and allow it to simmer
- Add the basil leaves to this water
- Bring to a boil
- Lower the flame and let it steep for 15 minutes
- Strain into a cup and add honey and lemon juice
- Stir and relish the taste
- If you have a stuffy nose during pregnancy, then avoid taking holy basil as a potent remedy for how to get rid of a stuffy nose
- It helps to lower sugar levels, so those who have low sugar levels should avoid using it
General precautions to follow while using herbal remedies to get rid of a stuffy nose:
- Always use 100% herb powders and tinctures
- If you are allergy-prone, then always perform a patch test before applying on skin
- Be cautious about using the quantity of herbs
- Always consult a doctor concerning the same
- If you are using herbs in pregnancy, then ask your gynecologist before using them
|Ancient Greeks believed that peppermint had the ability to cure hiccups.|
CURE 3: Essential Oils
Essential and carrier oils are also highly effective for stuffy noses. They can also alleviate other signs and symptoms of cold and cough.
1. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil can be used in various ways – through topical application, through a diffuser, and inhalation. The primary compound that imparts various health benefits to eucalyptus oil is eucalyptol. It possesses anti-inflammatory properties(11) that reduce swelling and inflammation, which will bring down nasal congestion.
- Eucalyptus oil.
- Clean handkerchief.
- Dab a few drops of eucalyptus oil in your handkerchief.
- Take a whiff every now and then.
|The Eucalyptus tree sheds its bark annually. The bark comes off in long ribbons or small flakes, depending on the tree type. Rainbow eucalyptus is a variant of the eucalyptus, which sheds its bark multiple times in a year, and the inner bark is multicolored!|
NOTE: You could also add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the water while inhaling the steam.
Keep sniffing the eucalyptus oil throughout the day until the symptoms subside.
2. Rosemary Oil
Rosemary oil contains compounds like camphor and cineole(12) (otherwise known as eucalyptol). The anti-inflammatory properties(13) of camphor and cineole are highly effective in relieving the symptoms that accompany cold and cough.
- Six to seven drops of rosemary oil
- A bowl of boiling water
- A clean towel
- Add the rosemary oil to the water.
- Place your face above the bowl and inhale the steam.
- Cover your head with the towel to prevent the vapors from escaping.
Try this remedy once a day until the symptoms subside.
[Read: Essentials Oils for Runny Nose]
|In ancient Greece and Rome, it was believed that rosemary could strengthen memory. Interestingly, it has been scientifically proven(14) that rosemary oil aids memory and can indeed help individuals focus and remember information.|
3. Bay laurel essential oil
Bay laurel essential oil is an excellent remedy to treat bacterial or viral infections that may cause infections or a stuffy nose. It is an impressive mucolytic agent which makes accumulated mucus more fluid and allows better flow
It also relieves headaches.
How to use it?
You can diffuse bay essential oils in a diffuser and inhale the vapors for getting rid of nasal congestion.
- Avoid using the oil if you suffer from asthma
- Do not exceed a 20% limit while using bay laurel essential oil
4. Niaouli essential oil
This essential oil helps in soothing irritating in the nasal passages. Besides, it also prevents and treats bacterial infections that may cause a stuffy nose.
- Ten drops of eucalyptus globulus essential oil
- Five drops of peppermint essential oil
- Five drops of niaouli essential oil
- Thirty ml of tamanu oil
- Mix all the ingredients
- Apply a few drops of this mixture on the nostrils, sinuses, and cheeks
- Massage gently into the skin and stay in a warm environment
- Repeat 4-6 times a day
- If you suffer from a hormone-dependent disease, then avoid using this oil
- Avoid taking strong dosages as it can trigger epileptic episodes
Fortunately, a stuffy nose is rather common and does not require medical intervention. Furthermore, it is entirely preventable with a little care. Here is a list of what to take for a stuffy nose or do to prevent a stuffy nose.
- Make use of a humidifier to keep the air moist. You could even add a few drops of essential oils to the diffuser to decongest your stuffy nose.
- Take a quick shower with warm water. Breathing in the warm, moist air will clear your nasal passage.
- Drink adequate amounts of water to stay hydrated.
- Sleep with your head in an elevated position to make breathing easier.
- Practice deep breathing exercises and yoga to clear up your airways.
- Make use of a saline spray to clear your nose.
- Follow good hygiene practices to prevent contracting the cold or flu virus.
Equipped with the knowledge of these tips and home remedies, you will have a better understanding of what to do when you have a stuffy nose. The remedies cited above will offer immediate relief for a stuffy nose. Supplement these natural cures with a balanced diet and adequate consumption of water. At the same time, avoid mucus-building foods like dairy, gluten, and sugar. You will notice a significant improvement in your condition.
1. What to do for stuffy noses in kids?
If your kid is suffering from a stuffy nose, you can try out the following remedies:
- Get them to blow their nose often
- Give them a lot of fluids and warm soups
- Use nasal saline drops or nasal aspirators
- Give them honey (not suitable for infants less than one-year-old)
- Give them steam (add a few drops of essential oils to the water)
- Make use of a humidifier (remember to rinse and disinfect it often)
- Let them rest
2. What foods are good for a stuffy nose? And what foods to avoid?
If you are suffering from a stuffy nose, here is a list of foods to eat and foods to avoid for your reference.
Food to Eat:
Spicy foods containing capsaicin, chicken soup or broth, garlic, honey, ginger, and fish. You may also drink coconut water and hot teas.
Foods to avoid:
Refined sugar, milk, tomatoes, red Meat, pizza. Also, avoid having wine and other alcoholic beverages.
3. How long does a stuffy nose last?
Nasal congestion gets typically cured within a week. However, if, for some reason, it lasts longer than a week, seek medical advice immediately.