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A stuffy nose, or nasal congestion, can be frustrating and often affect your day-to-day life.

Many people think a stuffy nose is the result of too much mucus in the nasal passages. However, a clogged nose is usually the result of inflamed blood vessels in the sinuses. A cold, the flu, allergies, or a sinus infection can all inflame these blood vessels.

Regardless of the reason for your stuffed-up nose, there are easy ways to relieve it. Here are some things you can do now to feel and breathe better.

A humidifier can be a quick and easy way to reduce sinus pain and help relieve nasal congestion.

The machine converts water to moisture that slowly fills the air, increasing the humidity in a room.

Breathing in this moist air can soothe irritated tissues and swollen blood vessels in your nose and sinuses. Some people claim that heated, humidified air can also help congested mucus drain better. However, reviews have shown that there’s no current evidence to support this.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of nasal congestion, you may still benefit from placing humidifiers around your house or office.

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Have you ever had a stuffy nose and found that you could breathe so much better after a hot shower? There may be a good reason for that.

Steam from a shower may help to thin out the mucus in your nose and reduce inflammation. Taking a hot shower can help your breathing return to normal, at least for a little while.

You can get the same effect by breathing in steam from hot water in a sink. Here’s how:

  • Turn on the hot water in your bathroom sink.
  • Once the temperature is right, place a towel over your head and put your head over the sink.
  • Allow the steam to build, and take in deep breaths.
  • Be careful not to burn your face on the hot water or steam.

Learn more about steam inhalation for congestion relief here.

It’s important to drink plenty of fluids if you suspect you have a cold or are experiencing flu symptoms.

Maintaining optimum hydration levels can help thin the mucus in your nasal passages, pushing the fluids out of your nose and decreasing the pressure in your sinuses. Less pressure means less inflammation and irritation.

If you’re also experiencing a sore throat, warm liquids like tea may be able to help ease the discomfort in your throat, too.

Take hydration one step further with saline, a saltwater solution. Using a nasal saline spray can increase the moisture in your nostrils.

Some saline sprays also include decongestant medication. Talk with your doctor before you begin using saline sprays with decongestants.

You can purchase the Simply Saline adult nasal mist here.

It’s not the most glamorous task, but you can clean out your clogged nostrils with a neti pot. A neti pot is a container designed to flush mucus and fluids out of your nasal passages.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using distilled or sterile water instead of tap water.

Here’s how to use a neti pot:

  • Stand with your head over a sink.
  • Place the spout of the neti pot in one nostril.
  • Tilt the neti pot until water enters your nasal passage.
  • Once the water flows into your nostril, it will come out through your other nostril and empty into the sink.
  • Do this for about 1 minute, and then switch sides.

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A warm compress may help alleviate some symptoms of nasal congestion by opening the nasal passages from the outside.

To make a warm compress, first, soak a towel in warm water. Next, squeeze the water out of the towel, then fold it and place it over your nose and forehead.

The warmth can provide comfort from any pain and help relieve the inflammation in the nostrils. Repeat this as often as necessary.

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A congested nose can be uncomfortable, but some other over-the-counter (OTC) medications may clear out your nasal passages and bring relief.

Make sure to speak with a pharmacist when choosing a decongestant, antihistamine, or allergy medication. The pharmacist can also answer any questions you may have about a particular medication.

Call your doctor if your stuffy nose doesn’t improve after taking medication for more than 3 days, or if you have a fever as well.

Decongestants

A decongestant medication can help reduce swelling and ease pain associated with irritated nasal passages. Many decongestants are available without a doctor’s prescription.

They come in two forms: nasal spray and pill. Common decongestant nasal sprays include oxymetazoline (Afrin) and phenylephrine (Sinex). Common decongestant pills include pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Sudogest).

Read more: What you need to know about Sudafed.

Be cautious when using decongestants. You shouldn’t take a decongestant for more than 3 days without a doctor’s supervision. After 3 days, a nasal decongestant may actually make your congestion and stuffiness worse.

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Antihistamines or allergy medication

You may want to take an antihistamine or allergy medication if your nasal congestion results from an allergic reaction. Both types of medications can reduce the swelling in your nasal passages, helping to unclog your sinuses.

Combining drugs containing both an antihistamine and a decongestant can relieve the sinus pressure and swelling caused by allergic reactions.

Follow the instructions for these medications carefully. If you don’t, you may make your condition worse. You should also note that antihistamines might make you drowsy. If you aren’t sure how an antihistamine will affect you, don’t take this medication when you need to be active or productive.

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Nasal congestion, which many people refer to as a stuffy nose, is the result of inflammation of blood vessels in your sinuses.

If you are experiencing symptoms of nasal congestion, there are a number of home remedies you can try. These include hot showers, warm compresses, and various OTC medications.

Read this article in Spanish.