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Nasal congestion is one of the most common symptoms arising due to a number of respiratory infections, allergic rhinitis being the most common cause. Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose is majorly responsible for these symptoms. While nasal congestion is one of the most common complaints of visiting primary care, a blocked nose without a severe underlying cause can be easily managed with the help of simple home remedies. However, it is important to seek medical care to determine and treat the underlying cause.

Simple remedies like use a peppermint rub or steam inhalation have been found to be helpful. Nasal irrigation is yet another commonly used method, which is bound to provide relief from a blocked nose.

This article will cater to explore the best remedies, which can be easily employed at home, in light of research evidence. So, get ready to bid goodbye to nasal congestion.

  1. Home remedies for nasal congestion or a blocked nose
  2. Tips for reducing nasal congestion

While antibiotic treatment and nasal decongestant sprays are available to manage a stuffy nose, these therapeutic approaches have their own side effects. Antibiotics must not be used for a long duration prolonging their course as this can lead to the development of antibiotic resistance. And with nasal decongestants, their use will help to provide temporary relief but in the long run, it can lead to rebound congestion, which is even more difficult to get rid of. With home remedies, you don’t have to worry about these side effects. Once the disease-related causes of nasal congestion have been treated or ruled out, the recurrent symptom of a blocked nose can be managed by using either of the remedies that will be discussed in this section.

  1. Steam inhalation for a blocked nose
  2. Peppermint oil for getting rid of blocked nose at night
  3. Garlic for reducing nasal congestion
  4. Orange juice as a blocked nose remedy
  5. Nasal irrigation or jal neti to manage blocked nose

Steam inhalation for a blocked nose

When we think of a blocked nose, steam inhalation is probably the first home remedy that comes to the mind, and that is for a reason. This remedy is quite easy to use, requires minimal ingredients and is effective for sure. Not only is steam inhalation one of the oldest remedies for relief from a blocked nose, but there is also sufficient evidence to support this use. Steam inhalation aids in immediate relief from symptoms of a stuffed nose. Here is how you can use this remedy:

Ingredients:

  • A large pan
  • Distilled water
  • A soft cloth or a towel

Procedure:

  • Take a large pan and fill it with distilled water
  • Bring this water to a boil and take the pan off the heat
  • Keep it on a steady surface and start inhaling steam by coming close to the pan inhaling the vapours
  • You must use a soft towel or a cloth to cover your head so that the steam does not escape
  • Breathe in the steam and continue using the remedy until the steam persists
  • Gently remove the head cover and relax

Precaution:

  • While using this remedy, it is important that you take care to not make physical contact with the pan as it could cause a burn.
  • It is also important that you keep the pan of a sturdy surface so that there is no risk of spillage of hot water on your body.

Tips:

  • You can use this remedy once or twice daily depending on the severity of your symptoms
  • You must note that this remedy only aids in providing temporary relief from nasal symptoms and you’re still required to take your medication, if any prescribed for your condition.

Alternative:

If you have a steamer at home, you can also make the use of the device but make sure it is thoroughly cleaned and the water used is clean.

Peppermint oil for getting rid of blocked nose at night

Peppermint oil is another commonly used remedy, which has been in use as a traditional remedy in parts of Asia. The presence of menthol in this oil is what is responsible for these relieving actions, and this compound is also used in a variety of vaporubs and inhalers. How menthol functions is by improving the nasal flow of air, which allows these actions. As it does so, it also helps in providing symptomatic relief from dyspnoea and is thus used for the management of upper respiratory tract infections and allergic rhinitis. Here is how you can use this oil for some relief:

Ingredients:

  • Few drops of peppermint oil
  • Two tablespoons of coconut oil
  • A bowl and a spoon

Procedure:

  • Take a large bowl and put 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in the bowl
  • Now add a few drops of peppermint oil and mix with the help of a spoon
  • You can store this oil or use it immediately
  • Apply the oil topically to get relief from a stuffed nose
  • You can apply it over the skin of your nostrils and can also put some underneath
  • If you experience congestion in the chest as well, feel free to make use of this oil in the area

Precautions:

  • Put just a few drops of peppermint oil since using it in a higher concentration can lead to a burning sensation on the skin
  • Use the oil only topically and not stuff it inside the nose

Tips:

  • You can use this remedy 2-4 times a day to get relief.
  • If you experience more congestion during the night, you can simply rub some oil before getting in bed.

Garlic for reducing nasal congestion

Garlic is a wondrous kitchen ingredient, which has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, and is helpful in relieving congestion of the nose. Supplementation with garlic will not only helpful in getting rid of congestion but also helps to prevent respiratory infections causing this symptom. Studies have found that as compared to placebo, individuals receiving garlic supplement have a lesser likelihood of getting infected with cold and have a better chance of recovery if infected. Here is how you can use garlic for this purpose:

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic
  • A glass of warm water
  • A knife

Procedure:

  • Press peeled garlic cloves with the help of a knife to mildly crush the herb
  • Consume these orally and follow by drinking a glass of water

Tips:

In addition to this remedy, you can also increase the dietary intake of garlic by adding it to your food items and dishes.

Orange juice as a blocked nose remedy

Orange juice is a favourite beverage but did you know it can also be used as a remedy against a blocked nose. This can be attributed to the presence of vitamin C in this juice, which helps in boosting immunity. Other than relieving stuffed nose, the intake of orange juice also helps in the prevention of cold. A dosage of 1 gram is recommended for this benefit. Here is how you can use this remedy:

Ingredients:

Procedure:

  • Peel the fruits and put them together in a blender
  • Blend until the fruits are ground and a liquid consistency is achieved
  • Strain and enjoy

Precaution and tips:

You can have this juice every morning but be wary of the calorie content.

(Read more: How to improve immunity)

Nasal irrigation or jal neti to manage blocked nose

Nasal irrigation is a useful technique for providing relief from a blocked nose, but it requires some skills and accuracy. If you are into yoga and Ayurveda, you must already be aware of the use of this therapy, which is commonly called Neti. Although the technique employed is quite simple and involves flushing your nasal mucosa with some saline, it is recommended to talk to an expert before beginning.

This technique makes the use of neti pots, which helps in these actions. The technique and procedure will be discussed ahead, let’s first understand why this remedy can be useful for you. Extensive studies have been done on this technique and it has been found to improve symptoms, even those related to upper respiratory tract conditions. It functions by improving the ability of the nasal mucosa to resist infections and irritants. Neti also helps in reducing inflammatory mediators and improving ciliary actions. As ciliary action improves and there is an increased frequency of ciliary beatings, a relief in symptoms is obtained as nasal contents vent out. This therapy has been suggested to be completely safe and has proven to be a better remedy when compared to steam inhalation. Other than providing symptom relief, the use of this technique also helped in reducing the need for over-the-counter medications and future visits to a care provider. Additionally, it helped to relieve headache, which is a common symptom occurring along with a blocked nose. Here is how you can use this therapy:

Ingredients:

  • Neti pots
  • Pre-packaged salt

Procedure:

  • First, prepare salt water by mixing the available salt with some lukewarm water
  • Put 100 ml of this in the nasal cup
  • Now, try to position your nasal cup
  • Lean over a sink and tilt your head towards the side while putting a neti pot at the end of the upper nostril to form a tight seal
  • Exhale and start breathing from the mouth for the procedure to begin
  • Next, gently raise the pot so that the solution enters the upper nostril
  • Allow it to drain from the lower nostril
  • After the solution ends, exhale out from both the nostrils
  • This will allow excess solution and mucous to drain out
  • Now repeat the procedure for the other nostril

Precaution:

  • You must be extremely careful while performing this technique and initial guidance is recommended to avoid any side effects.
  • You may notice nasal dripping after a few hours, which is completely normal.
  • It may sometimes be irritant to the nose, then, it is recommended to reduce salt content.
  • Initial discomfort and nervousness are some of the side effects. In rare cases, epistaxis and ear stuffing may be experienced.

Tips:

  • Wash the nasal pot after irrigation and store it until next use when you again mix a fresh solution.
  • For convenience, you can also use perform the technique in the shower.

The above remedies are highly effective in providing relief from symptoms, but there are certain tips that need to be followed to ensure proper recovery. These are:

  • Intake of fluids: It is important that you ensure to drink enough water while you are suffering from a stuffed nose. Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water each day as this will assist in providing symptom relief. Also, it will cater to provide enough hydration helping to maintain optimal levels of energy. (Read more: How much water to drink in a day)
  • Other than water, the intake of warm fluids like soups and hot teas can also be helpful.
  • Regular drainage of mucus: Regularly draining mucus will help to prevent a stuffy nose.
  • Probiotics have also been found to be helpful in relieving the symptoms of a stuffed nose as they help to modify the gut flora. Probiotics are available in the form of milk and its products, which have been fortified. Regular consumption of these may be helpful.
  • Commercially available balms and rubs are also helpful in getting rid of a blocked nose.
  • In some individuals, zinc lozenges are also recommended, which are commercially available.

Other herbal supplements and herbal bath are not very effective in the management of a stuffy nose and must thus not be used without a doctor’s consult.

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References

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  2. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006. Common colds: Relief for a stuffy nose, cough and sore throat. 2006 Feb 14 [Updated 2017 Oct 5].
  3. Eccles R. Menthol: effects on nasal sensation of airflow and the drive to breathe.. 2003 May;3(3):210-4. PMID: 12662469
  4. Josling P. Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double-blind, placebo-controlled survey.. 2001 Jul-Aug;18(4):189-93. PMID: 11697022
  5. Richard Nahas, Agneta Balla. Complementary and alternative medicine for prevention and treatment of the common cold. 2011 Jan; 57(1): 31–36. PMID: 21322286
  6. Little P, Stuart B, Mullee M, Thomas T, Johnson S, Leydon G, Rabago D, Richards-Hall S, Williamson I, Yao G, Raftery J, Zhu S, Moore M; SNIFS Study Team. Effectiveness of steam inhalation and nasal irrigation for chronic or recurrent sinus symptoms in primary care: a pragmatic randomized controlled trial. 2016 Sep 20;188(13):940-949. PMID: 27431306
  7. Rabago D, Zgierska A. Saline Nasal Irrigation for Upper Respiratory Conditions.2009 Nov 15;80(10):1117-9. PubMed PMID: 19904896
  8. Tungsukruthai P, Nootim P, Worakunphanich W, Tabtong N. Efficacy and safety of herbal steam bath in allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled trial.. 2018 Jan;16(1):39-44. PMID: 29397091
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