6 Science Backed Home Remedies To Clear A Stuffy Nose Instantly

Susan Patterson
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7 Science Backed Home Remedies To Clear A Stuffy Nose Instantly

If you have reached a breaking point with your stuffy nose, relief may be closer than you think. There are many time-tested home remedies that can clear a stuffy nose and keep your sinuses clear so that you can breathe with ease.

Cold and respiratory allergies are the most common causes of a blocked nose because they irritate the nasal lining and cause inflammation and swelling of the nasal passage and the sinuses. Sinus infections and exposure to certain chemicals or severe cold may suddenly bring on nasal congestion.

You might try to blow your nose harder thinking mucus is behind the blockage, but that doesn’t usually help. In fact, it may worsen the inflammation. Over-the-counter nasal decongestants may give instant relief, but they may cause rebound congestion (rhinitis medicamentosa) after a few days, prolonging your discomfort.  Try the following home remedies before you resort to them.   

Saline spray/drops

This is the simplest and safest way to relieve a blocked nose. You can buy saline spray off the shelf (such as this Arm & Hammer Simply Saline Nasal Relief), but it can be made easily at home too. Just dissolve 2 teaspoonfuls of pure sea salt (salt without any additives) in half a cup of water, boil it, cool it and pour it in a squirt bottle. Alternatively, you can use a dropper or the tip of your little finger to put a drop of saline into each nostril.

The general perception is that the salt solution dilutes the mucus to remove congestion. It definitely moisturizes the nasal cavity and lightens the thickened mucus, but its main action is shrinking the swollen tissues by drawing out water. We see the same thing happening when you keep swollen feet in a bowl of salt water.

An advantage with saline is that it does not cause rebound congestion since it has no action on mucous production. You can repeat the treatment until the inflammation subsides and you can breathe easy.

Steam inhalation  

Inhaling steam quickly relieves a stuffy nose, especially when the sinuses are infected and congested. Steam opens them up and facilitates fast drainage. The simplest way to inhale steam is by holding your head over a steaming pot of water and taking in deep breaths. An electric steamer vaporizer can be handy too.

A few drops of eucalyptus oil added to the water will open up the nose instantly and give you quick relief. It promotes sinus drainage and reduces inflammation. Essential oils of peppermint and lemon are also effective. Some people used to add a bit of Vicks VapoRub which contains eucalyptus and menthol, but these active ingredients promote the secretion of mucus, so their use can cause rebound congestion. This should not be used for babies under 2 years of age and for people with asthma.  

It can be unpleasant to expose the face, particularly the eyes, to the hot steam, all the more so if you are using eucalyptus oil. You can keep a funnel upside down over the mouth of the pot to direct the steam to your nostrils, but avoid scalding your nose.  Alternatively, use this personal steam inhaler.

Steam inhalation cannot be done by infants; even young children find it difficult. Instead, take them to the bathroom and have them sit there with the hot shower running. The steamy atmosphere generally does the trick.

Warm compress

Sinus congestion can be relieved by applying warm compresses to the forehead, nose, and upper cheek. Wring out a thick towel in hot water and place it over these areas, ensuring that there’s close skin contact. The warmth will trigger sinus flow and reduce congestion.

Adding salt to the hot water has been found to have an added effect. For a salt solution to be effective, it should have fairly high concentration. It is actually the hypertonicity of the saline that clears the congestion.

Hot tea with pepper

Drinking hot tea is an oral route to get rid of nasal congestion. It works in two ways. As you sip the hot liquid, the rising vapors get into the nostrils. Besides its warmth that helps stir things, some bioactive compounds are at work too.

The flavonoids in tea are powerful anti-inflammatory agents. They are more abundant in green tea, but black tea is also effective. Adding crushed black pepper and honey to the brew increases the effect. The piperine in black pepper is a bioavailability enhancer. It improves the action of other potent molecules.

Recommended Reading: 17 Herbal Teas With Extraordinary Health Benefits

Chicken soup

This age-old cold remedy may not exactly cure cold, but it definitely relieves the uncomfortable symptoms of a cold, especially a blocked nose. Chicken (organic) is highly nutritious and easily digestible, and the added nutrition may help increase body’s natural defense against disease-causing microbes. But the quick relief from nasal congestion can be attributed to all the potent herbs and spices that have gone into the soup.

Onions, ginger, and pepper are staples in chicken soup. Thyme, pepper and cloves are also often used. They contain many bioactive compounds that can reduce sinus inflammation. As we mentioned earlier, pepper enhances the action of other anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agents in them.

Turmeric is a spice with excellent anti-inflammatory action. Use it liberally in the chicken soup that you prepare to relieve cold.

Peppermint tea

Another warm drink that can help relieve nasal congestion is peppermint tea. If you have fresh or dried peppermint leaves, use them to make a freshly brewed tea. 

Add a teaspoonful of raw honey and a squeeze of lemon to the peppermint tea to make it extra soothing. Honey-lemon combination is well known for its mucolytic property.

The next time you find yourself with a stuffy nose, try these home remedies before resorting to anything more invasive. You will be surprised at how effective these easy and safe solutions are.

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