As I type these words I am sniffling and snuffling thanks to a very stuffy
nose. It’s the frustrating kind, where you can’t even get some relief
by blowing it. This is because the worst kind of stuffiness comes not
from an excess of mucous, but from inflamed and irritated tissue in the
sinuses and nasal passages. The mucous, well, that’s just the cherry on
the sundae. When fighting off a cold or the flu, these tissues and the blood vessels inside them become swollen from excess fluid. Other things, such as allergies
or irritants like smoke, can also cause that dreadful stuffy feeling.
Luckily, home remedies for a stuffy nose are some of the easiest and
least involved as they come. These do overlap with some remedies for the
cold, as is to be expected since a stuffy nose is the trademark symptom
of those pesky viruses.
1. Take a Hot Shower
I have used this on the cold and flu remedy posts, and no, it’s not
cheating, because it really is one of the best ways to relieve
stuffiness. The steam from the shower is almost guaranteed to relieve
the irritation and inflammation (temporarily, unfortunately, but still)
and, if your stuffy nose comes with an excess of mucous, the steam will
thin the secretions and help them drain. You can also do a bowl of
steaming water with some essential oils added for an extra kick, and a
towel over your head, but a shower is a little less involved.
You will need…
-A shower with hot water
Get the water as hot as
you can stand it and stay in there for at least fifteen minutes. Make
sure the bathroom door is closed, and shove a towel under the door to
keep that precious steam in.
2. Make Your Own Saline Drops
Saline drops (just water with salt added) are a tried and true remedy for a
stuffy nose. Remember how the worst kind of stuffiness (that doesn’t
improve when you blow your nose) is, in large part, excess fluids in the
tissue that lines the sinuses and nasal passages that causes the tissue
to swell, which makes it uncomfortable and hard to breathe. A saline
solution is a powerful remedy because it uses the power of osmosis. Put
very simply, when there is a higher concentration of salt outside the
cells in the tissue, water will pass out of the tissue to balance things
out again. When you draw fluid out of the tissue the swelling
decreases, and your breathing opens up. In addition to this, the fluid can loosen up trapped mucous
and help flush irritants and germs out of your body. This solution is
hypertonic-it has a higher concentration of salt than the body, which
draws the water out-as opposed to isotonic, which is balanced to match
the bodies levels. Do not use a hypertonic solution on children under
the age of 5. There is also baking soda added (optional) to help lessen
the potential for the drops to sting if you have a sore nose.
You will need…
-1 teaspoon of sea salt (not table salt, or any kind with iodine!)
-1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (optional)
-8 ounce (1 cup) of water that is either purified or has been boiled
-A sterile glass jar
If you are using tap
water, boil it first to get rid of any impurities. If you are using
purified/distilled bottled water, heat it in the microwave until it is
fairly warm-it needs to be a higher temperature to dissolve the salt.
Add the salt and the baking soda to your jar, and then add the water (if
you boiled it, make sure it’s cooled some! Put the lid on and give it a
good shake. Shake before every use.
To use, make sure your
dropper is clean and sterile, and blow as much mucous out of your nose
as possible just beforehand. Lie on your back with your head hanging off
the side of the bed (to prevent it from running out or straight down
your throat) and put the tip of the dropper just past the inside of the
nostril, taking care not to smear it all around inside your nose.
Use 1-3 drops per nostril. It may sting the first few times. Stay in
the same position for 5-10 minutes to allow the solution to flow into
the nasal passages. Wait a few minutes and then blow your nose. You can
repeat this process up to 3 times a day during the duration of your
cold. It is not for extended use for allergy season or to help with (an
isotonic solution should be made for that.)
I think it is more pleasant-and effective-to warm the solution slightly
before using it. Store at room temperature up to a week, and then make a
new batch. If you prefer a spray to drops, get a container made
specifically for administering a nasal spray, and follow the
instructions on how to use it.
3. Make a Spicy Decongestant Last
but not least, few things beat the power of a good homemade spicy
decongestant. This recipe is one that I cherish, made with the faithful
ingredients of cayenne pepper, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, honey,
and ginger. Some people like the taste (I personally do) and some don’t,
but whichever camp you’re in you’ll love it for the relief that it
brings you when it feels like nothing else can!