Whether you prefer to refer to it as a blocked nose, stuffy nose, or nasal congestion, one thing is certain: it makes you uncomfortable, not to mention that it may even interfere with your productivity and sleep.
So, how do you get rid of a blocked nose? This article will highlight some of the best home remedies for blocked nose which can help to clear the excess mucus and nasal swelling associated with nasal congestion. Included also are the top natural and homeopathic remedies for blocked nose.
What Causes A Blocked Nose?
Blocked nose is the result of blood vessel inflammation. The nose comprises of a huge network of blood vessels. Each of these blood vessels contain a series valves that open and close as necessary to allow blood into the nose.
According to Stringer, S., MD, professor of otolaryngology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, any factor that causes a stimulation of the nerves in the nose makes them open up, resulting in an increase flow of blood into the nose. This in turn causes swelling in the nasal passage, leading to nasal congestion.
The accumulation of mucus associated with common cold tend to make nasal congestion worse. Most home remedies for blocked nose aim at fighting off this mucus accumulation while soothing the inflamed blood vessels.
Among the most common causes of a blocked nose are:
- Cold or flu.
- Allergies: Exposure to allergens e.g. pet dander and pollen can cause persistent or constant blocked nose. Causes a blocked nose alongside symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes
- Sinus infection
- Excessive production of mucus
Home Remedies for Blocked Nose and Sinus
Over the counter medications the likes of nasal decongestants and antihistamines are typically used to clear blocked nose, but you can as well use simple home remedies to get rid of the condition and start breathing easier.
Among the best home remedies for blocked nose are:
A Humidifier for Blocked Nose
Having a balanced amount of moisture in the air we breathe is important for optimum health. When the air around the house is too dry, the sinuses can become inflamed leading to nasal congestion.
A humidifier (or a vaporizer) is one of the best home remedies for blocked nose due to low moisture content especially at night. It pumps up moisture into the air which helps to thin out the mucus in your nose, thus relieving sinus and nasal congestion.
According to the HealthLine website, moist air also helps to soothe the inflamed blood vessels.
Both warm mist and cool mist humidifiers will work just fine, but the EverydayHealth website suggests using the cool-mist humidifier for children nasal congestion to avoid accidental burns. It is also of paramount importance that you keep the humidifier clean to avoid growth of harmful fungi and bacteria.
Each humidifier comes with usage and cleaning instruction; follow them to the letter.
Steam Treatment for Blocked Nose
Like the humidifier, inhaling steam also helps to relieve blocked nose by loosening the mucus in your and sinus and nasal passages. It also helps to relieve blood vessel inflammation, making it one of the most effective home remedies for blocked nose.
Here is how to go about it:
- Heat some water in a small pot and then transfer it to a small basin. Drape a towel over your head while leaning over the steaming water. Inhale the steam deeply, being careful not to scald your face. Repeat several times each day and the blocked nose will soon get a relief. Adding a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus essential oils can make the remedy even more powerful.
- Alternatively, take a steamy shower and breathe in and out during the shower.
Nasal Irrigation with a Neti Pot
Nasal irrigation with a neti pot – a simple device shaped like a tea pot – can also help to drain your sinuses and offer instant relief from blocked nose. As one of the oldest home remedies for blocked nose, nasal irrigation has usage history extending back to centuries among Indian yoga and ayurvedic practitioners which makes it one of the oldest home remedies for blocked nose.
In addition to thinning out the mucus clogging your nose, a neti pot also helps to flush out any offending allergens in your nose.
The neti pot is designed to pass water through your nasal passages. Although you can use plain tap water, it is recommended that you use sterile (distilled) water to minimize the risk of infection. Saline water is also great for the purpose.
To use a neti pot, fill it with sterile water or saline solution prepared by mixing boiled water with salt (pharmaceutical grade salt is highly recommended even though you can as well use common salt), then tilt your head sideways over a sink. Now insert the neti pot’s spout into your nostril and then pour the saline solution gently until it flows out through the other nostril. After a few minutes, repeat the process on the other nostril.
You can buy a neti pot in drugstores and health food stores.
As the name suggests, saline sprays constitute of a mixture of sterile water and salt and are available over the counter in most drugstores.
They can also help to get rid of blocked nose by thinning out the mucus in your nasal passages and soothing the inflamed blood vessels. Saline sprays can also help to flush out allergens and bacteria present in your nasal passages and sinuses. Since they also help to increase moisture in your nasal passages, saline sprays are particularly very helpful during winter when moisture levels are usually very low.
If you want you can create your own saline spray at home as follows:
- Pour 2-3 teaspoons of non-iodized salt into a bottle containing a pint of sterilized or distilled water. Boiled, then cooled, water will as well do. Swirl the bottle until all the salt has dissolved.
- Transfer the resulting solution into a bulb syringe
- Squirt the solution gently into your nose with the bulb syringe tiled slightly towards the back of your head (as opposed to straight up).
This home remedy is particularly good for blocked nose in infants and toddlers.
Caution: As high as the ranking of saline rinses is among home remedies for blocked nose, some of the OTC saline sprays contain decongestant medications. Follow the instructions for such sprays carefully as their over-use (for longer than 3 days) can actually make the blocked nose worsen.
Take Lots of Hydrating Fluids
Fluid intake is one of the easiest but most effective home remedies for blocked nose. Fluids (liquids) such as water, ginger ale, juice, soup, tea, and even sports drinks helps to your body hydrated which in turn helps to thin out the mucus in your nasal passages. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee are however not advisable when you are suffering from blocked nose as they may actually dehydrate your body and worsen the nasal congestion.
Warm Compress (or Hot Pack)
In the list of home remedies for blocked nose also is a warm compress. This simply refers to a warm cloth or pack that works the same way as steam or hot shower; by opening the nasal passages. Dr. Stringer says that there isn’t any evidence that a warm compress (and a cold compress too) relieves inflammation in the nose but is quick to point out that there is no reason why you shouldn’t use it if it makes you feel better.
To use this remedy to relieve congestion, follow these steps:
- Dip a small towel or washcloth in warm water.
- Wring the excess water out of the washcloth, then fold it and apply it across your face, especially at your nose bridge and forehead.
- Repeat the treatment as frequent as is necessary until the stuffy nose is healed.
Vitamin C for Blocked Nose
For blocked nose related to cold, vitamin C may be of help. According to Dr. Stringer, although vitamin C doesn’t relieve nasal congestion directly, studies have shown that it is effective in shortening the duration of a cold and relief of symptoms.
NB: Vitamin C won’t be of much help to blocked nose that is caused by allergies. Other home remedies for blocked nose such as saline spray and nasal irrigation with a neti pot would be better options for allergy induced nasal congestion.
Apple Cider Vinegar
A list of home remedies for blocked nose would certainly not be complete without including apple cider vinegar. The potassium in this home remedies superstar helps to open blocked b thinning out the mucus and the acetic acid in it inhibits the growth of bacteria in sinuses which is often a contributory factor for nose blockage.
To use apple cider vinegar to open a blocked nose¸ follow these steps:
- Pour a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar into a cup of water. Mix the two and then sip the resulting solution. Repeat this process 2-3 times daily until you get relief from sinus or nasal blockage.
- Alternatively, get a cup of warm water, then add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar followed by 1 tablespoon of honey. Mix well, then sip it. Repeat 2-3 times daily to help open the blocked nose quickly.
Eucalyptus oil has strong anti-inflammatory and “mucus thinning” properties which makes it one of the best home remedies for blocked nose. It has also been shown to be potent in getting rid of several bacteria responsible for upper respiratory tract infections e.g. sinus infection. Here are some of the options available for this blocked nose remedy:
- Pour 2-3 drops of eucalyptus onto a clean handkerchief. Inhale the aroma deeply for about 5 minutes. Repeat the process a few times each day for the best results.
- To reap the benefits of eucalyptus essential oil while sleeping, you can also apply a few drops to your pillow.
- Alternatively, add 5 drops or so of eucalyptus oil into a small basin with boiling water (about 1 quart of water), then lean over the basin with a towel draped over your head. Inhale the steam coming out of the basin deeply for 10 minutes or so. Repeat the process a few times daily to open the blocked nose.
Home Made Vapor Rub for Blocked Nose
A blocked nose can benefit from the healing powers of eucalyptus oil when used in a homemade vapor as outlined below:
- To about an ounce of coconut oil add about 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil (wintergreen and mint essential oils will do just as fine).
- Apply the mixture to your chest and below the nose, then massage it in gently for instant relief from blocked nose.
Caution: Eucalyptus and mint essential oils SHOULD NOT be used for children aged below 10 and 6 years respectively. Instead, try using pine, cypress, fir, and spruce essential oils for children provide they are older than 2 years.
Massage the Nostrils
This is yet another one of those home remedies for blocked nose that look so simplistic that their effectiveness is easily overlooked. Don’t let the title “massage the nostrils” (for lack of better description) fool you; this remedy is very powerful.
- Place your index fingers on either sides of your nose, that is, at the edge of each nostril as shown in the image below courtesy of Readers Digest.
- Apply slight pressure and hold on for about 20 seconds, then release and repeat 5 times
- Repeat the process several times daily for relief of nose blockage.
Natural Remedies for Blocked Nose
The above listed blocked nose remedies can help to treat and get rid of nose blockage but if you are a natural remedies junkie, you may as well want to consider the natural remedies for blocked nose listed below to relieve nose blockage. As you will soon notice, the majority of these natural and herbal remedies rely on ingredients that are commonly found in homes; you probably have in your kitchen and if not, chances are they are readily available in your local health food store.
Ginger has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Couple that with its ability to thin and drain out nasal mucus and hence clear the nose, and you have the making for one of the best natural remedies for blocked nose.
- Add 1 teaspoon of freshly sliced or grated ginger to two cups of boiling water in a saucepan.
- Cover the saucepan and then simmer the contents over low heat for 15 minutes
- Consume one half of the resulting solution
- Soak a washcloth in the remaining solution and apply it to your nose bridge and forehead while lying down with your head elevated by a pillow (to help with sinus drainage).
You can also mic ginger with lemon juice and honey for an even more powerful treatment regimen.
Garlic is one of the most popular natural home remedies for blocked nose and there are good reasons for that.
First, garlic has powerful anti-viral and antibacterial properties which makes it a potent remedy for respiratory infections underlying nasal blockage e.g. cold, flu, and sinus infection.
Secondly, garlic contains a strong taste and smell which triggers secretions that aid in the draining of the nasal passages.
Thirdly, garlic has immune boosting capabilities which can help fight the conditions underlying nasal congestion.
- Drop 2-3 cloves of garlic in a pot containing a cup of water. Bring it to a boil, then inhale the steam coming out of the pot before drinking the water once it has cooled to an acceptable temperature. Take a cup daily until the nose blockage clears. Some people have reported greater success by adding in a ½ teaspoon of turmeric acid.
- Alternatively, chew a couple freshly peeled garlic cloves regularly. This will help to relieve the blocked nose and the associated discomfort.
- You can also add some garlic cloves to your foods and soups
Chicken soup is already covered in the fluid intake section but it is so effective that it deserves its own place among natural home remedies for blocked nose.
Studies have shown that chicken soup helps to reduce the production of mucus in the nose by targeting the body’s immune function directly while cutting down on nasal inflammation.
The steam from the soup also helps to unclog the nasal passages. Chicken soup is particularly good for blocked nose that is accompanied by sore throat and/or chesty cough. Adding pepper to your soup will help to make it even more effective.
Tomato juice is rich in vitamin C which helps to strengthen the immune system and thus aid in healing of health conditions responsible for blocked noses e.g. cold. It is also touted to help open up the blocked sinuses and thus aid in the flow of mucus, and to relieve blood vessel inflammation in the nasal cavity.
The best way to clear blocked nose with tomato juice is to prepare and consume a spicy tomato juice tea as explained below:
- 1 cup tomato juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- A pinch of Celtic (or celery) salt
- ½ tablespoon hot sauce (optional)
- Mix the ingredients in a small pot and bring them to a boil
- Consume the resulting tea while it is still hot
- Repeat this remedy 2 times each day and that blocked nose will soon be cleared
Rich in potassium and other nutrients, fenugreek is one of the most helpful ingredient that nature has to offer and reign supreme among natural home remedies for blocked nose thanks to its natural anti-inflammatory properties.
It also releases heat and moisture when drank hot which in turn helps to thin mucus in the nasal passages and thus relieve stuff nose.
- To a cup of water, add a couple teaspoons of fenugreek seeds (crushed)
- Bring it to a boil, then strain
- Consume the resulting solution 2-3 times daily for relief from nasal congestion.
NB: fenugreek is not ideal for treatment of blocked nose during pregnancy because it may stimulate uterine contractions leading to a miscarriage or premature birth.
The pungent smell of onions can help to thin out the mucus in your nose and thus offer relief from nose blockage. Simple peel and onion and then cut it into four pieces. Smell it for about 5 minutes while inhaling deeply. You may want to close your eyes as you do this to avoid irritation.
Peppermint tea is one of the best herbal remedies for blocked nose. It contains menthol which help to unclog nose blockage by thinning out the mucus in the nasal cavity, thus open the nasal passages. Simply prepare a cup of peppermint tea and consume it while still hot 2-3 times daily until the blocked nose gets a relief.
Cayenne pepper is rich in capsaicin which helps to clear a blocked nose by drying up the mucus lodged in the nasal cavity and sinuses. The anti-inflammatory properties of cayenne pepper also helps to reduce the stuffy feeling associated with nasal blockage.
How to get rid of a blocked nose with cayenne pepper
- Sprinkle some cayenne pepper on your foods or soups.
- Alternatively, prepare a spicy tea by pouring a ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper into a cup of boiling water. Consume the hot tea 2-3 times each day and the blocked nose will be cured in a few days.
Black pepper is also listed among the best natural remedies for blocked nose for its ability to induce sneezing, hence unblock a stuffy nose. This also helps to get rid of allergens which makes it a great remedy for nasal congestion that is caused by allergies.
- Add a small amount of black pepper into the palm of your hands.
- Add 22-3 drops of sesame oil and mix well.
- Apply the resulting mixture to the area below your nose and above your lip
- Take a deep breath to pick the aroma until it induces sneezing
- Repeat this treatment regime a few times daily to cure blocked nose
- Heat a tablespoon of hot pepper in a saucepan for 2-3 minutes
- Inhale the fumes. You will get the urge to sneeze; just “let it out”.
You may as well consider this natural ayurvedic home remedy (originally published on Homeveda):
- Crush 3 tomatoes
- Add them to a pot containing a glass of water, then boil it for between 10 and 15 minutes.
- Add 1 teaspoon of butter, followed by ½ teaspoon each of black pepper powder and crushed garlic
- Mix the ingredient and consume the mixture.
- Repeat the process 3 times daily until the blocked nose clears
Blocked nostrils may as well benefit from the healing properties of horseradish. This herbal remedy helps to clear blocked sinuses and thin the mucus in your nasal cavity. To cure blocked nose with horseradish, follow the steps outlined below:
- Add horseradish to your sandwich in the morning or during snack time.
- Alternatively, mix 1 tablespoon each of horseradish, olive oil, and lemon juice and spread it on your snack, say a cracker.
- Add freshly grated horseradish root to your food after it is cooked e.g. mashed potatoes, rice, etc.
Carom seeds also rank among the best natural remedies for blocked nose. Here is a carom recipe based on ayurvedic medicine as adopted from Homeveda:
- Place a couple tablespoons of carom seeds in a clean cloth
- Hold the cloth near your nose and inhale deeply
- Repeat the treatment 3 times daily until the stuffy nose gets relieved.
Thyme is one of the most effective herbal remedies for blocked nose. It has antibacterial properties that can help to fight off any respiratory infection underlying a blocked nose. To make it even more powerful, consider throwing in the nose decongesting power of peppermint as explained below:
- In a small bowl, add 3 teaspoons each of thyme and peppermint.
- Add boiling water and then lean over the bowl with towel draped over your head.
- Inhale the rising steam deeply for 10-15 minutes.
- Repeat three times daily until the blocked nose opens.
Taking lots of spicy foods also helps to unclog blocked nose. Add red chilies, onions, ginger, onions, and garlic to spice up your foods. This helps to promote nasal passages and sinus drainage which then relieved nose blockage.
More Tips for Relief of Nose Blockage
In addition to the above mentioned home remedies for blocked nose, the following tips may help to relieve blockage and enhance your breathing:
- Sleep with your head elevated. Adding one more pillow can help to prevent and get rid of nasal congestion that develop at night (nasal congestion also tends to worsen at night and make sleeping difficult) by promoting sinus drainage.
- Keep your bedding clean as allergic reaction to dust mites is a common cause of blocked nose.
- Change the air filters in your air conditioner frequently.
- Avoid going outdoors when pollen is at its peak.
- Vacuum and clean the carpet, furniture upholstery etc. frequently to prevent buildup of dust.
- Try using a commercial nasal breathing strips product. These simple devices help reduce nasal congestion by lifting the nostrils – and thus the nasal passageways – up.
Homeopathic Remedies for Nasal Congestion
Homeopathic medicine is based on the concept of using small doses of substances that would trigger the same symptoms as the condition being treated if taken in larger doses. It is increasingly gaining recognition worldwide for treatment of various health conditions.
We therefore felt that this list of home remedies for blocked nose would not be complete without a few homeopathic remedies for blocked nose (nasal congestion) since home remedies focus on alternative medicine (as opposed to “mainstream” medicine).
Among the top homeopathic remedies for nasal congestion are:
Also referred to as Kali muriaticum, Kalium muriaticum is made from potassium chloride, hence the name Kalium which is the scientific name for the element, potassium. There is a total of 12 cell salts in homeopathy – otherwise known as biochemic salts or tissue salts – and Kali muriaticum is one of them.
Kalium muriaticum is used in homeopathic treatment of common colds that are associated with a blocked nose or sinus congestion. According to Elixiirs.com, the salt is particularly useful for congestion that is characterized by white nasal discharge, sinus complications, and a white coating on the surface of the tongue.
Obtained from distillation of Meadow anemone (Anemone canadensis), a plant native to Missouri, Pulsatilla Negricans is a common homeopathic medicine for blocked nose. Pulsatilla Negricans is recommended for treatment of congested nose due to colds. It is also recommended for blocked nose that gets worse at night or in the evening as well as that for which you feel worse when inside only for the congestion to improve considerably when you go outside.
Rhus toxicodendron is obtained from posion ivy at night when the oils are stronger as homeopaths claim. It is indicated for treatment of a nose blockage that when the weather is humid or cold. It is also indicated for a blocked nose that is associated with restlessness. The side-effects of this homeopathic remedy for nasal congestion are still not conclusively studied as at the time of this writing.
Made from arsenic (of course in very small amount especially given that this element is very poisonous to humans), Arsenicum album is recommended for a blocked nose in patients who frequently suffer from colds, sore throats, and chest complication as the Blue Shield Complementary and Alternative Medicines says.
Patients whose symptoms get worse just before midnight are also candidates for prescription with Arsenicum album and so are patients that sneeze constantly as well as those who discharge thick, white-colored mucus.
Nux vomica is one of the best natural homeopathic remedies for blocked nose that occurs at night. It is also suited for treatment of nose blockage that affects only one side of the nose with the other nostril running freely (runny nose) as well as cases of blocked nose that get worse when the patient goes outside.
CAUTION: Consult with your doctor before using any of these homeopathic remedies for blocked nose, especially for babies.
Cure Blocked Nose after Swimming
We have seen many home remedies for blocked nose so far but what about a blocked nose that develop after swimming in a pool, lake or ocean?
Well, this is usually attributed to irritation of the mucous membrane caused by the chemicals used to disinfect the pools, especially chlorine. You may as well get a blocked nose after swimming in a lake or ocean if water enters your nasal passages leading to sinus infection.
There are numerous ways in which you can prevent post-swimming nasal congestion including:
- Try using another pool in your area if there is one. The chemical balance of the pool you use is probably not right.
- Get a nose clip and use every time you take a dip in the swimming pool. Although it might feel awkward at first, it will help to stop water and chlorine from entering your nasal cavity.
- Take a shower before and after using a swimming pool. This should be mandatory anyway.
- If you use an indoor swimming pool, ensure it has proper ventilation to prevent buildup of chlorine fumes.
- Drink plenty of clean water and other non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic beverages and fluids.
Now, what can you do to get rid of a stuffy nose if it has already developed after swimming? Well, any of the home remedies for blocked nose will do just fine, but many people will swear to the effectiveness of nasal irrigation and saline sprays. If you are allergic to chlorine and other chemicals used for swimming pool sanitization, you may also want to take antihistamines before taking a dip.
If a blocked nose after swimming is accompanied by fever, go see a doctor.
When to See a Doctor for a Blocked Nose
All these home remedies for blocked nose will help relieve the condition and make breathing easier. If congestion lasts more than 7-10 days, you should seek medical attention. As Dr. Stringer puts it, viral infections such as common cold clear within 7 days or so. Nasal congestion that lasts longer than 10 days may be indicative of a bacterial infection which would necessitate treatment with antibiotics. You should seek medical attention right away if you experience any of the following symptoms: fever, shortness of breath, facial or tooth pain, nose bleeding, and wheezing.
What is your take on the above home remedies for blocked nose? Please let us know by leaving a comment.
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