March 15, 2024

It’s that time of year when it seems like everyone is sniffling, whether it’s from the common cold or seasonal allergies. Suffering from nasal congestion is never fun. Your symptoms may include a stuffy nose, runny nose, post-nasal drip, sinus pressure, pain, and more. Nasal congestion can have a lot of causes, the most common of which are allergies, dry air, viruses, and bacteria. However, lifestyle can also play a role, such as smoking or frequent travel. If you’re suffering from nasal congestion, keep reading to find out some things you can do to find relief.

1. Breathe in Steam

Nasal congestion occurs when the nasal passages are swollen with excess mucus. Steam can help thin this mucus, reduce inflammation, and soothe irritated sinus passages. Run a hot shower or bath with the door closed and sit in the bathroom to breathe in the steam. You can also fill a bowl with hot water and lean over it with a towel draped over your head to contain the steam as you breathe. Just be careful to not burn yourself on the hot water or steam.

2. Drink Lots of Fluids

water being poured into a glass

It’s always important to drink plenty of water and other fluids when you suspect you may be sick to support your immune system as it fights off the illness. If you are suffering from nasal congestion, staying hydrated can also help thin the mucus in your nasal passages, which in turn can push the excess mucus out of your nose and reduce the pressure in your sinuses. If your congestion is accompanied by a sore throat, drinking warm liquids like herbal tea or broth can help ease the discomfort while keeping you hydrated.

3. Rinse Your Sinuses

Rinsing out your sinuses with a nasal irrigation device like a neti pot or nasal bulb can help thin and loosen mucus to promote drainage as well as remove allergens, irritants, and germs. If you are seeking relief from nasal congestion, try flushing your sinuses with a saline solution using one of these devices. Mix a cup of warm, sterile water, half a teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of baking soda to make a saline solution. Rinse your nasal passages with the solution one nostril at a time. Make sure you lean your head over a sink and breathe through your mouth as the liquid drains out the other nostril.

4. Apply a Warm Compress

woman wrapped in blanket with warm compress on forehead

If your nasal congestion is causing sinus pressure or pain, you can use a warm compress to find temporary relief. A warm compress can help reduce inflammation, pressure, and discomfort in your nasal passageways. Soak a washcloth with warm water and squeeze out the excess, then place it over your cheeks, nose, and forehead. You can also use a hot compress product that can be heated in the microwave. Keep the warm compress on for 20 minutes and repeat as needed.

5. Take Medication

There are over-the-counter decongestants and nasal sprays that can help relieve nasal congestion. Decongestants work by narrowing blood vessels to reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, which can help dry up a runny nose. Nasal sprays can also be helpful in reducing sinus congestion and pressure. They are primarily used for allergy symptoms, but some may be effective for nasal congestion caused by colds as well. If your nasal congestion is caused by seasonal allergies, taking an oral antihistamine can help by blocking histamines, which cause sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. If your nasal congestion is long-lasting or accompanied by other severe symptoms, you may need to see a doctor for treatment.

Is It a Cold or Allergies?

Both seasonal allergies and a cold can cause uncomfortable nasal congestion. You can treat this symptom using the above remedies no matter the cause, but it can be helpful to know whether you have an illness or are reacting to allergens. Find out how to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and the common cold so you can know if you’re contagious and make sure you’re following the correct treatment.