6 Ways to Naturally Treat Nasal Congestion

Nose Spray AddictionMillions of people around the world suffer from nasal congestion due to allergies or colds. Prescribed medications often make your symptoms worse, prolong symptoms or cause uncomfortable side effects. Almost everyone has had the experience of taking an antihistamine medication and feeling drowsy, lethargic and mentally unclear.

What many people do not realize is that antihistamines may slow your body’s natural reaction to allergens or infections, thereby making your body less effective at fighting off allergens or infections, and making your symptoms last for a longer period of time. The good news is that you do not have to suffer. There are many simple techniques that you can use wherever you are to lessen nasal congestion, get rid of your pain and end your frustration with antihistamine medications.

When you were a child, your mother probably gave you vapor rub before bed to treat congestion. Vapor rub is a natural nasal congestion cure made from mentholated petroleum gel that painlessly opens nasal passageways and does not inhibit your body’s natural histamine response. Vapor rub is best used at night because it may stain clothes or be uncomfortable while you are at work. Vapor rub enables you to breathe easily, which helps you get a better night sleep and wake feeling refreshed in the morning.

woman-breathe-vaporVaporizers and vapor rub go hand in hand. Vaporizers are small machines that plug into the wall and heat water until it is released as warm steam. When you breathe in the warm steam, nasal passageways expand and you breathe easier. One concern about vaporizers is to ensure neither pets nor small children are accidentally burned by the hot steam. You also need to make sure that the steam does not damage furnishings in your house. A good alternative to a vaporizer is to take a warm bath or shower. The water will naturally turn to warm steam and open your airways. This option provides more safety for people concerned about pets or children.

Drinking warm liquids is an easy nasal congestion remedy that you can use on home, on the go, at work or anywhere that you can heat water or another beverage. Simply heat your beverage to the point where it is warm and steam forms but where the beverage is not too hot to drink. Sip the drink slowly, holding your nose and mouth close to the cup. Because the mouth and nasal passageways are so closely connected, you will inhale some of the steam, causing your airways to expand and relieve congestion.

If you love spicy foods, eat them when you are experiencing nasal congestion. Although this is a less popular nasal congestion remedy, you will feel relief almost as soon as you eat a spicy food. The spicy food contains capsaicin, a natural compound found in peppers. This chemical is believed to affect the thickness of mucus. By making your mucus more runny, spicy foods naturally give you relief from your nasal symptoms. Use this natural nasal congestion solution sparingly because spicy foods can cause inflammation, which may worsen your condition or create other side effects such as stomach discomfort.

Everyone knows that warm compresses cure many problems that ail you, but people sometimes overlook this great natural healing tool when it comes to congestion. Simply dampen a washcloth or towel with warm water and place on the affected area. If you place a warm compress on your nose or cheeks, the heat will naturally cause your sinus areas to expand, allowing for better drainage of nasal congestion. Be careful that the compress is not so hot that you burn your skin. Warm compresses are another natural tool to quickly and effectively alleviate congestion without drugs.

woman-neti-potNeti pots have been used throughout the world for thousands of years, although this congestion solution is unknown to many people in North America. You need to make a saline solution of water and salt. Natural sea salt or medical grade salt, which you can buy at a pharmacy, works best. You should try to avoid commercial salt with added chemicals or added iodine. Many neti pots come with a spoon to measure the right amount of salt for the water. If you do not have such a spoon, you can add one teaspoon of salt for every 500 ml of water. You should use water that is warm but not too hot.

Test the water by placing a few drops on your wrist. The water should feel warm but not burn you. Stir the water and salt together until the salt is completely dissolved. You are going to pour the saline solution into one nostril and let the solution drain out of the other nostril. Stand over the sink and open your mouth wide enough that the passageway between your nose and mouth naturally seals. You should be able to breathe comfortably through your mouth. Bend over and hold your head sideways. The nostril through which the liquid exits should be the lowest point. Slowly pour half a pot of saline solution into one nostril and out of the other while continuing to breathe through your mouth. Repeat on the other side.

When you have finished blow gently with both nostrils. Then you can blow with one nostril at a time. You can use this tip daily to relieve nasal congestion.

Nasal congestion does not have to be frustrating or painful if you use these easy and inexpensive tips. Healing without drugs enables you to use your body’s natural responses to allergens or infection. With few side effects and little to no cost, these tips will keep you happy and healthy and help you end the frustration associated with nasal congestion.

Dad, writer and photographer. Living the dream with my son Jake. I travel the world making friends and experiences while building my network or properties and friends.

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Posted in How-To, Natural
11 comments on “6 Ways to Naturally Treat Nasal Congestion
  1. Everett says:

    This is a good post with solid info about nasal congestion, but I wonder if you have anything dealing with nasal polyps and inflammation. I can breath fine (no congestion) but it feels like my sinuses are angry with me. There is so much pressure in there….

  2. Ken Savage says:

    Hello Everett. Other than some OTC saline rinsing we don’t recommend anything else other than a Dr checkup. Polyps grow so slow you’ll never feel them until they’ve blocked nasal passage or become inflamed and sometimes bleed. I just had one removed a few months ago. No fun for sure.

    • Joshua Becker says:

      Got to be careful about saline sprays, as a common preservative can cause swelling over time. Avoid Benzalkonium Chloride. =(

      Graf, P., & Hallen, H. (1996). Effect on the Nasal Mucosa of Longā€Term Treatment With Oxymetazoline, Benzalkonium Chloride, and Placebo Nasal Sprays. The Laryngoscope, 106(5), 605-609.

  3. Erik says:

    I recently took Afrin nasal spray 2 times each nostril 3 times 5 minutes between each but I did this slump up in a bed and I swallowed a lil after a bit leaked into my mouth.
    My mouth is burning and it’s quite painful please reply

  4. katier72 says:

    Oh how I love my neti pot! Years ago I never would have imagined that I would be singing the praises of that darn thing, but it really helps me when seasonal allergies hit, when I’m struggling with a sinus infection and just the average cold.

    My husband still refused to try it, but it’s really changed my life.

  5. CarrieM says:

    Yes, the hot, spicy foods are my go-to remedy for congestion. It works very quickly. I tend to cook with hot peppers when they are in season; out of season I will use spices and dried peppers.

    As you point out, these peppers contain capsaicin which has a variety of health benefits. It’s useful as a pain remedy for instance. Googling it will yield some fascinating information and scientific studies.

  6. nivlac says:

    Neti pots , first time remedy for me , I will be sure to recommend this . This seem like a remedy from the western world .Whats the success ratio like.

  7. rubymusic1 says:

    Thanks for the tips above, I currently use a few of those, such as a warm compress. I usually use that when washing my face as then it doesn’t really get in the way with the daily routine. It temporarily helps the pain for a while.

    I’ve never used a neti pot before, but i’ve considered it. Although I have used saline nasal sprays and they have always worked for me.

  8. yellowbird says:

    I’ve never tried a vaporizer to improve my sinuses, but I could see why that would be effective. The neti pot is my favorite home remedy for nasal congestion, but spicy foods do also tend to clear me out as well! Very informative article.

  9. zacwrong says:

    I have nasal congestion all the time since I was little, and now I have a habit of breathing through my mouth, because my nose is blocked all the time. I’ve tried the vapour rubs but they don’t really seem to help. I’ll try the neti pot remedy.

  10. Joshua says:

    Hey all, thought I’d recommend some additional info. I have cause-unknown chronic congestion, and have tried many things including surgery.

    HERE’S THE ONLY THING THAT HELPED, AT LEAST A LITTLE: A low-histamine diet. It seems crazy, and a lot of the web pages that post info on it are kind of whacko, but after about a week of being careful my congestion actually reduced. Not perfect, but better. I guess I have mild histamine intolerance. There’s an enzyme supplement out there called DAO-SIN, but I’m reluctant to try it until I talk to a professional.

    The problem is, its (a) really hard to find solid and consistent info on histaminic foods and (b) its really hard to stick to the diet. No alcohol! No fish, unless its really really fresh. The hardest part: no leftovers. Some alcohol (red wine) actually has histamine, but all alcohol disrupts the metabolization of histamine.

    As far as I can tel the main source of histamine (and biogenic amines in general) is from the natural, time process of denaturing protein. I haven’t figured out how far this goes, if it applies to non-animal proteins (eg, canned beans) or just animal (no canned tuna). I don’t know if its purely bacterial, which is what the info suggests – in that case, why would canned tuna be out? Mostly I’m just using personal trial and error. Since I started paying attention, I can actually feel my face get flushed when I eat certain triggers. Immediate effects last for hours, but it can build up into a more general congestion and malaise.

    I haven’t talked to a Dr, but from what I read, many don’t know about this relatively recently explored condition. Here’s some research with a list of potential foods:

    Maintz, L., & Novak, N. (2007). Histamine and histamine intolerance. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 85(5), 1185-1196.

    (If you can’t get past the paywall, reply to this post and I’ll send you a copy. I recommend against lifestyle changes based on non-peer-reviewed sources of information, including me and this website.)

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