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What are Some Home Remedies for a Stuffy Nose?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are a number of ways to help relieve a stuffy nose at home, which work very well when combined with regular nose blowing. Try not to sniffle, as you can suck nose mucus into your lungs, which may later cause an infection. If the congestion is accompanied by high fever, coughing, or painful sinuses, you may want to consider seeing a doctor to get to the bottom of the problem.

There are multiple ways to approach a stuffy nose. You can help to reduce the amount of stuffiness in the first place by cutting down on wheat and dairy consumption, and upping your consumption of zinc, vitamin C, and other useful nutrients. Keep your head elevated while you sleep to reduce the buildup of mucus, too. It is also important to keep properly hydrated, and good hydration will help you recover from a cold faster as well. Remember to carry a handkerchief or soft tissues around for frequent nose blowing.

Consuming hot liquids helps with a stuffy nose and the general malaise that comes with a cold. Try chicken soup, vegetable stock, tea, apple cider, or other hot beverages. The heat and steam will start your nose running, which can help clear congestion. You can also up the ante by consuming spicy food, which often triggers an explosion of mucus.

Sniffing irritants such as onions and menthol can also help with a stuffy nose. You can try cutting an onion in half and holding it under your nose, or you can smear a menthol rub under your nostrils. Nasal decongestant sprays may also be used, although they should not be employed too frequently. A better choice is a saline spray or rinse, which can be used as often as you need to.

Steam is another great way to treat a stuffy nose. You can stand in a hot shower or steam room to get your nose running, or you can make your nose a steam room all its own. Fill a bowl with hot water and add eucalyptus, orange, or mint oil if you like. Crouch over the bowl and drape your face with a towel, inhaling the steam deeply. The steam will also be beneficial for your skin.

Another option for treating a stuffy nose is a neti pot. A neti pot looks like a small teapot, with a long spout which is designed to go up into your nostril. The neti pot is filled with warm water which is gently poured into the nose to irrigate it and loosen the mucus. When used properly, a neti pot pours water all the way through the sinus passages, and is best used over a sink.

The Health Board 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.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon347482 — On Sep 07, 2013

For immediate relief, walk faster and this will cause your nose to get unblocked.

By feasting — On Feb 25, 2013

I've never heard of sniffing an onion as a stuffy nose cure! I could never do this. Chopping an onion makes my eyes sting and tear up, so I know that holding one under my nose would be a big mistake.

Instead, I use steam for relief. I boil a pot of water on the stove with a few drops of peppermint extract and lean over it while holding a towel over everything. I breathe it in and enjoy the relief.

Also, at night, I use a humidifier on the warm setting. It creates steam that I can actually see shooting out of it, and I keep my bedroom door closed so that I can trap it all inside.

This steam lubricates my sinuses and seems to loosen everything up. I do blow my nose several times during the night, and without the humidifier's help, I wouldn't be able to blow out any mucus.

By healthy4life — On Feb 25, 2013

@orangey03 – I can get a little bit of stuffy nose relief from eating spicy foods, even when I have a cold. The relief is only temporary, but even an hour or two of being able to breathe a little through my nose is appreciated.

The spicier the food, the more intense the relief. I have some chipotle sauce that I put on chicken tenders, and it really opens up my nasal passages. For a snack, I will eat chips and salsa, and that is a good way to get some relief between meals.

By orangey03 — On Feb 24, 2013

One of the most annoying cold symptoms is a stuffy nose. It goes hand in hand with a runny nose, and even though this sounds strange, you can have both at once.

There is just so much mucus being produced that it can run out your nostrils and stop up your sinuses at the same time. I once stuffed a tissue up inside my nostrils during a cold because I was so tired of wiping my nose every few seconds, and within fifteen minutes, the whole tissue was saturated!

The sad thing is that when you have a cold, you pretty much have to just deal with the stuffy nose. No decongestant or antihistamine is going to do much I the way of relief, because the virus is working against it.

By Oceana — On Feb 23, 2013

I suffer from a chronic stuffy nose because of my allergies. I take antihistamines every day, but they can only do so much.

I use a menthol rub under and inside my nostrils. This helps open my sinuses up at night so that I can sleep.

It's really powerful, and I've also used it for chest congestion. It will work better than anything else at easing congestion.

By anon168636 — On Apr 18, 2011

I have to say that Aleve D was the ONLY medicine to completely 'unstuff' me up. I was so thankful to God that I was finally able to breathe after trying ALL types of medicine. One pill was all it took to open my nasal passage. Thereafter, I only needed an vapor inhaler to keep my nasal passage running smoothly. I was getting desperate but thankful for Aleve D. Only one pill was all I needed.

By anon159468 — On Mar 12, 2011

Add 1/4 of a teaspoon of non-iodized salt to the warm water in a neti pot. I don't know how, but it works!

By anon107089 — On Aug 28, 2010

For a stuffy nose:

1/4 tsp Kosher salt in glass of warm water, squirt three times in each nostril. Can use as often as necessary, no harm done.

By anon45003 — On Sep 12, 2009

If you try a Neti Pot then you'd better be sure not to use plain water (as the article implies). Always use a saline-water mix. You can purchase pre-measured saline packets at Walmart or wherever you bought the neti pot or nasal rinse bottle. Plain water will burn your nostrils!

By overreactor — On Jul 23, 2008

A saline solution can be an effective and inexpensive way to help with stuffy nose.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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