We’ve all been there. You can’t breathe, you can’t sleep, nothing tastes the same. Actually, nothing tastes at all. You have no energy at all and your pockets are stuffed with used up tissues. Even though is sounds like symptoms of a broken heart, we are talking about something much more common, but almost equally depressing – a stuffy nose.
Stuffy nose, or nasal congestion, may be caused by various factors. Sometimes it accompanies common cold, flu or sinus infection. It may also be the result of an allergic reaction. It occurs when nasal tissues get irritated and the blood vessels get enlarged due to excess liquid. This, in turn, causes swelling that makes it difficult to breathe and eventually affects the sense of smell and taste.
Everyone has a stuffy nose from time to time and while it’s not a life-threatening condition, nasal congestion may become one of the most annoying illnesses you experience. Luckily, there are numerous home remedies that can help you relieve the symptoms of a stuffy nose.
Bottom up! – Stay hydrated
Keeping the body hydrated is a must, especially when you are down with cold or flu. High level of water intake keeps the mucous membrane of the nose moist and helps flush toxins out of your body. The temperature of the liquids you choose to drink isn’t of much importance. However, when you suffer from nasal congestion, it’s a good idea to reach for a cup of hot tea with honey and lemon. Higher temperature of the drink makes the taste more intense, which stimulates the flow of saliva and mucus. That, in turn, soothes the nose and helps clear viruses and bacteria. Just a reminder that honey loses its properties at very high temperatures, so don’t add it into your cup straight away and let your tea cool down just a bit.
A great way to keep your respiratory track (and the skin) hydrated is breathing in warm steam. Make sure, however, that its temperature is not too high. If you have a facial sauna, pour some water in, add 5-6 drops of menthol oil and place your face over the device. Don’t keep it too close to the steam. You need to be able to breathe comfortably. Cover your head with a clean towel and stay like this for 10-15 minutes. The steam hydrates your nasal cavity, opens up nasal passages and relieves the pressure of a stuffy nose. Menthol oil stimulates the nerve receptors in the nose, which eventually makes breathing easier. You may also try a vaporizer or simply breathe in the steam while you’re taking a shower or a bath.
Switching on a humidifier in the room will help you keep the mucous membranes hydrated. A humidifier helps break up congestion since it adds moisture to the air and eventually helps to thin the mucus in your nose. Remember, though, that you must keep the device clean by disinfecting it daily. A humidifier full of bacteria can do more harm than good. If you don’t own a special device, you can simply put a wet towel on the heater in the room where you spend the majority of the day or in your bedroom before you go to sleep. Once the towel gets dry, wet it again and repeat the process. Make sure the towel is fresh. Don’t use one that has been hanging in your bathroom for a few days. Even though it might smell fresh and seem clean, it has already accumulated germs that will thrive in a warmer environment.
If you are too tired to do any of the above and can’t drink a lot of liquids for some reason, e.g. when you have a severely sore throat and swallowing causes pain, simply put a moist washcloth on your face and breath for a few minutes. You will have to repeat it several times a day to see the same results as with a humidifier, though.
For an instant relief from breathing difficulties caused by stuffed nose, you can use saline sprays or go all ayurvedic and buy a neti pot (teapot-shaped device) and saline solution. You use it to flush the excess mucus from the nasal passages. You can make the saline solution yourself at home. Simply mix 1 cup of warm water, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda and use the solution to perform a gentle nasal wash 3-4 times a day. Make sure you use filtered water since tap water may contain bacteria. They may be safe to swallow since they get killed easily by stomach acids when we drink it. Regular use of neti pots not only relieves the symptoms of nasal congestion but also reduces the need for steroid sprays in people with allergies.
The magic touch
If you are not too sick to think about pleasures, then consider a massage. Not necessarily a full-body, hot chocolate one, but a simple massage of your nose. Apply some soap on your nose and wet your fingers. Then perform a gentle massage on both sides of your nose. Due to the warmth, the mucus gets released more easily and you will immediately be able to take a deep breath.