Cold and Flu
9 Home Remedies for Getting Rid of a Stuffy Nose
These all-natural cures may provide relief from the pressure and pain of stuffy nose.
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Snack on horseradish
Want a quick way to clear a stuffy nose? Try horseradish, an old home remedy for a stuffy nose to clear sinuses of mucus. Add horseradish to your favorite sandwich, or blend a tablespoon into your favorite vinaigrette. “Your nose and throat have glands that produce 1 to 2 quarts of mucus every day, which you swallow without realizing it,” says Ashley Wood, RN, a nurse in Atlanta, GA, and a contributor at Demystifying Your Health. “Since the mucus helps to filter out particles that you inhale, it’s not uncommon for bacteria or viruses to get stuck in it and cause inflammation to the membranes in your sinuses, causing the mucus to thicken.” If your stuffed-up sinus symptoms are chronic, make sure you rule out nasal polyps and these other underlying reasons for feeling stuffed up.
Make a hot ginger compress
Moist compresses on your forehead, eyes, and cheeks can help stuffy sinuses drain. Try alternating between 5 minutes of hot and cold ones, suggests New York City physical therapist Peggy W. Brill in her book Tell Me Where It Hurts and I’ll Tell You What to Do. For a pain-busting boost, use ginger tea or the water used to steep fresh ginger. The herb is a natural anti-inflammatory and inhibits the production of cytokines that cause pain and swelling, says Elizabeth Trattner, an acupuncture physician in Hallandale Beach, FL. “Ginger is my go-to herb.”
Try DIY acupressure
Trattner likes this acupressure move as a natural decongestant: Use your left thumb and index finger to press the area next to the inner eyes on both sides of your stuffy nose. At the same time, use your fingers and the heel of your other hand to grab muscles on both sides of the spine at the back of your neck. Put pressure on all four points for about 1 minute and you’ll start to feel some relief.
Give your face a soothing massage
Weird as it may sound, giving your sinuses a finger massage will increase circulation to the area and help ease the pain, says Trattner. Using your index fingers, press hard on the outer edge of your nostrils at the base of the nose. Hold for 30 seconds, release, and repeat three or four times.
Use a humidifier
“Dry air can make your nasal passages and sinuses dry and irritated, which leads to inflammation and prevents mucus from draining naturally,” says Wood. “A humidifier is a great way to get some relief because it adds moisture back into the air. Taking a warm shower can be helpful as well.” Before you shop for one, check out these tips for picking the best humidifier for your space.
Drinking plenty of fluids and staying well-hydrated can thin the mucus in the nasal passages, making it easier for congested sinuses to drain. That, in turn, relieves the pressure from a stuffy nose. Warm liquids help quickly open up congested sinuses, so sip on steamy cups of tea as well as plain water.
Sip peppermint tea
One of the more delicious ways to get rid of a stuffy nose: sip peppermint tea. The heat from the tea, plus the soothing menthol in peppermint can quickly make you feel like you’re breathing easier. If nothing seems to work, or symptoms get worse, keep your eyes out for signs of a sinus infection, which may require treatment from a doctor.
Nosh on some garlic
“Garlic has powerful antioxidant properties and stimulates the multiplication of white cells, natural killer cells, and antibody production in the immune system,” says Trattner. “Whole cloves can be eaten every day, crushed in food—but don’t rely on powdered garlic. It doesn’t have the active compounds.” There’s no better time to make an extra-garlicky pasta dish than when you notice one of these signs you’re getting a cold.
Eat cayenne pepper
The capsaicin in cayenne pepper and other spicy peppers helps sinuses drain, making it easier to breathe. It also helps with pain as well, says Trattner. Sprinkle cayenne pepper in chili, or sip a spicy tea by adding 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder to a cup of boiling water. While you’re at it, try some of these feel-better foods for a cold, too.
- Ashley Wood, RN, nurse and contributor at Demystifying Your Health, Atlanta, GA
- Brill, P., Tell Me Where it Hurst and I’ll Tell You What to Do, Bantam, 2007.
- Elizabeth Trattner, an acupuncture physician board certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), Hallandale Beach, FL.