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What are Some Home Remedies for Nasal Congestion?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 17, 2024
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Nobody enjoys the prospect of nasal congestion caused by a cold, flu or allergy, but it occurs frequently. While many sufferers assume the problem is too much mucus production, quite often nasal congestion is caused by swelling of the nasal membranes themselves. The mucus draining from the sinus cavities has nowhere to go, so it backs up until the swelling subsides enough for drainage. As any sufferer can attest, this process can take days and the trapped mucus causes a number of other problems in the meantime. Fortunately, there are a number of home remedies to try while you wait for permanent relief.

Some home remedies for nasal congestions center around environmental changes. An air conditioner can help remove allergens and other airborne irritants, so be sure to recuperate in a room with a filtered air supply. Vaporizers are also recommended for relief from nasal congestion, especially when additives such as vinegar or Vicks-style menthol salve are added to the water supply. Some experts suggest vaporizers using cool water are just as effective for small children who may get burned by steam. If a vaporizer is not available, breathing over a container of boiling water and herbs or vinegar may also provide some relief.

Other home remedies for nasal congestions involve the consumption of spicy or pungent foods. Chicken soup laced with heavy doses of black pepper may open up the sinus passages. Ethnic foods known for their spiciness are also popular home remedies for nasal congestions. Many people find relief after eating spicy Mexican, Chinese or Indian dishes containing hot peppers. A centuries-old recipe for basil tea is also said to clear the sinuses quickly, as does a spicy tomato tea similar to an alcohol-free version of a Bloody Mary cocktail.

A few home remedies for nasal congestions use physical manipulation of the nasal area to achieve relief. Hot, moist compresses should be placed under the eyes and over the nose to encourage sinus drainage. One suggestion calls for pressing the tongue against the roof of one's mouth, followed alternately by gently pressing on a point between the eyes. It is believed that a facial bone in the sinus area could be shifted to allow for better drainage.

One of the most popular remedies for nasal congestions is a saline spray. There are several different recipes for a homemade saline nasal spray, but essentially they require boiling table salt and baking soda in a pan of water and storing the cooled contents in a sanitized bottle. A rubber nasal syringe or dropper can be used to apply several drops of saline directly into the nasal passages. The saline is believed to shrink affected membranes and encourage natural drainage. A similar recipe using 3% hydrogen peroxide and colloidal silver in solution is also believed to have some positive effects.

Some home remedies for nasal congestions, however, are intended to address the root cause of the congestion, not just the stuffiness and blockage. A surprising number of stuffy noses are triggered by food allergies, not colds or other infections. Dairy products are often considered triggers for nasal congestions, as are products containing nuts or wheat gluten. Eliminating suspected food allergens from a child's diet may reduce the frequency and severity of nasal congestions not associated with the cold or flu.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick , Writer
As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By anon332923 — On May 02, 2013

My husband has the same problem with nasal congestion, or running nose, sometimes continuously and sometimes sneezing continuously. He has severe allergies. He used inhalers, nasal saline spray, had immune injections/shots, inhalers etc., etc. and went to the emergency room several times. It was just temporary relief. For the past month, he has been drinking ginger tea daily and everything is good now.

By anon328335 — On Apr 03, 2013

I was suffering from nasal congestion and had some nasal polyps removed by surgery. After two years, it appeared again. I went to an ayurvedic doctor and his tablets gave me lot of relief. I took the tablets for two months and

after I stopped treatment it appeared again. It is a long term treatment with safe medicines that cost me about 500 rupees per month.

By anon315643 — On Jan 24, 2013

I have an extreme sense of smell. It controls my life. I've become homebound because of this problem. Even having company is a problem, because if you don't personally have the problem, I believe my friends and family humor me and try to do their best to avoid perfumes and chemicals, but it you're a person who loves smelling good (rather than natural) I don't feel right asking them not to wear what they enjoy, even though I know I will suffer because of it, sometimes for weeks. Does anyone have a solution for this problem?

By Perdido — On Jan 21, 2013

Decongestants work better than most home remedies for sinus congestion. The only home remedy that has ever done even a little bit to open up my clogged sinuses is eating spicy foods.

I try to eat the spiciest food I can tolerate when I'm having nasal issues. The relief is only temporary, but it's better than nothing.

By giddion — On Jan 20, 2013

One of my favorite natural remedies for nasal congestion is hanging my head over a pot of boiling water. I get relief right away.

Once the water is boiling, I hang my head over it and drape a towel over my head to trap in the steam. I inhale as deeply as I can with clogged sinuses, and before I know it, I am able to inhale more deeply because I can breathe more easily through my nose.

I also sometimes hang out in the bathroom after someone has taken a hot shower. The steam in there does the same thing for my sinuses.

By seag47 — On Jan 20, 2013

@Kristee – I get winter nasal congestion, too, but I know that mine is caused by all the dry air in the house. The heater runs a lot when it's cold outside, and it really dries out the inside of my home.

Dry air can cause congestion. So, I use a humidifier in my bedroom at night, and it helps me sleep. The difference between the air with it and without it is astounding.

I got to the point where I absolutely could not sleep because my sinuses were so dry and clogged. The humidifier on the warm setting instantly moistened them. I pointed it toward my side of the bed to get the most out of it.

By Kristee — On Jan 19, 2013

One of the best home remedies for sinus congestion I have ever tried is a salve containing eucalyptus and menthol. I spread it on the skin right under my nose, and sometimes, I even put a little up inside my nostrils.

It immediately opens up my passageways. The smell is so overwhelming, but it is nice to be able to smell again, even if only for a few moments.

I get a lot of nasal congestion during the winter. This is when I use the salve most.

By anon293192 — On Sep 24, 2012

I have to use my Neti pot a few times a week when my allergies get bad. I would also recommend this product I found called Sinus Rejuvenation Oil. It has done wonders!

By anon137493 — On Dec 28, 2010

using good balms like the tiger balm, vicks inhaler and having a calpol tablet at the very onset can make a great deal of difference. in addition, avoid having a cold water head bath during rains and winter is also a good preventive method.s teaming daily is good for the throat as well as for the nose and skin.

By anon71562 — On Mar 18, 2010

I used to have horrible chronic sinus congestion, and after going to several naturopathic doctors, I learned that this problem is often an indicator of gut problems.

It can be connected to candida overgrowth, allergies, leaky gut, poor digestion, etc. Probiotics (I used Primal Defense from Garden of Life) made the biggest difference for me. Hope this is helpful, because I know how miserable chronic congestion can be -- it's like having a bad cold all the time! This is for anon69022.

By anon71422 — On Mar 18, 2010

The neti pot did not work. Believe me, my nasal congestion is crazy. it's not so much mucus, but the swelling. My nose also swells up like a balloon.

Believe it or not, drixoral with mental is a miracle drug and if it treats my problem, it'll treat yours too. Two sprays in morning, afternoon and evening and you'll sleep like a baby again. It seriously works. Use it every day.

It may cause more congestion but as soon as you use it, you'll be yourself again.

By anon69837 — On Mar 10, 2010

i have had nasal congestion for the past two years.

i have high blood pressure for ten years and diabetes for one year. since then I now lose my sense of smell very often because there is so much tension in my life.

By anon69779 — On Mar 10, 2010

Excellent article. Gave me lots of ideas that I had not considered before.Thanks.-- Tennessee

By anon69022 — On Mar 05, 2010

i suffer from constant nasal congestion which prevents me from falling asleep and wakes me up virtually every night. Some days are better then others but I don't know why. I have a nasal irrigator which helps but does not solve the problem. I've tried nasal gel, nose operation, etc. but nothing works. it is killing me.

By olittlewood — On Jan 18, 2008

i recently got a neti pot to help us with all the sinus infections my family gets during the winter especially. i first saw it on Oprah and thought i'd try it. it was definitely an experience! it looks like a teapot, which you fill with a warm saline solution. you put one end in one nostril, tilt your head forward, and to the side, and it goes up one nostril and out the other! once, i had a particularly bad cold, and i was so stuffed up, it couldn't go through. i gave it a few more times and it finally started draining. i think that by using this, i avoided a sinus infection! i'd recommend this or a sinus irrigator to anyone who is suffering with a cold, or sinus infection!

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick


As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range...
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