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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Ignatius Ooi Yong Chin and Dr Eki Wari on September 20, 2022

How To Get Rid Of A Stuffy Nose During Cold And Flu Season

A stuffy nose is inevitable during cold and flu season. Keep these remedies on hand so you and your children can get to feeling better fast.

Stuffy nose woman min scaled

A stuffy nose is a common symptom during the cold and flu season. It’s often one of the first symptoms of COVID-19.

Also known as nasal congestion, a stuffy nose occurs when something irritates the tissue lining of your nasal passage. This leads to inflammation and mucus production that makes it hard for air to get through.

Most of the time, a stuffy nose will clear on its own after a few days. If it doesn’t, it’s usually a sign of an infection.

Luckily, there are many remedies available to help clear a stuffy nose. We listed them here, along with a few you might not have known about.

How To Get Rid Of A Stuffy Nose 

A stuffy nose occurs when there is irritation and inflammation in the lining of your nose.

Here are some ways to get rid of a stuffy nose:

Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines 

To get quick relief from a stuffy nose, you can take these medicines available at pharmacies without having to go through a doctor.

However, these need to be taken strictly according to the dosage mentioned. Your pharmacist can help you make the right choice. You can try: 

  • Decongestants: These medicines shrink and dry up the nasal passages, which helps to dry up a runny or stuffy nose. 
  • Antihistamines: These medicines treat allergy symptoms, such as itchy nose, eyes, and rashes. However, they may also cause drowsiness as a side effect.  
  • Nasal sprays: These sprays can relieve your stuffy nose quickly. But do not use them frequently or for more than three days in a row, unless advised by your doctor. 

Steam inhalation 

Holding your head above a steaming bowl of water or having a hot shower helps ease congestion.

For an even better experience, add a few drops of chamomile or peppermint oil to the water. The warmth of the steam decongests the membranes inside the nose and provides temporary relief. 

Saline sprays 

You can use a saline spray to unblock a stuffy nose.

Saline sprays are safe to use, have no side effects, and are easily available over the counter in pharmacies. The salt solution helps to reduce inflammation, relieves stuffiness, and is safe to use during pregnancy and for young kids.

Neti pots 

Neti pots help to relieve dry nasal passages. When used with a saline solution, it can help flush out and moisten the nostrils. But do take care to use only distilled, sterile, or previously boiled and cooled water. 

Eucalyptus oil 

Eucalyptus oil has healing properties and has been used for its medicinal effects since time immemorial. The oil contains antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and sedative components.

Add a few drops of this healing oil to your diffuser to relieve a stuffy nose, or use it with your steam inhalation.

If you don’t want to go through the trouble, sprinkle a few drops on a handkerchief and smell it throughout the day. 

Herbal remedies for a stuffy nose

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used to relieve the symptoms of colds and fever since ancient times,” says TCM Physician Ignatius Ooi.

He recommends using TCM medicines that help to eliminate Heat and dispel toxins for symptoms associated with the common cold. He recommends Kang Du Qing Fei pills to help with mild cold symptoms, such as nasal congestion and sore throat.

To clear a stuffy nose and cough that is accompanied by clear mucus, you can take an herbal mild cough powder to relieve symptoms. For a persistent cough with thick yellow phlegm that is accompanied by a stuffy nose, sore throat, fever, headache, and chills, you can try taking an herbal hot cough powder.

Treating a stuffy nose with acupressure

“Acupressure is an easy way to relieve a stuffy nose at home. Just massage the appropriate acupoint for five minutes, three times a day,” says Physician Ooi. He recommends the following acupressure points for nasal congestion: 

  • Ying Xiang (LI20)
  • Ying Tang (HN3)
  • He Gu (LI4)

For discomfort in the throat, Physician Ooi recommends the following acupoints: 

  • Yu Ji (LU10): Located on the outer aspect of the midpoint of the first bone of the thumb 
  • He Gu (LI4): Located between the base of your thumb and index finger 
  • Tai Xi (KI3): Located on the inner side of the ankle, behind the bony prominence 
  • Zhao Hai (KI6): Located on the inner side of the ankle, in the depression below the bony prominence 

Stuffy noses generally get relieved with these home remedies. However, if your symptoms persist, you should consult your doctor.

Contact your doctor to rule out a bacterial infection or other complications if you also have facial pain, pain in the ear, green-colored mucus, fever, headache, coughing, or tightness in the chest. 

How To Clear A Stuffy Nose In Babies

Babies can be given saline drops to clear a stuffy nose.

A stuffy nose is a common complaint in newborns and babies. A baby’s immune system is not well developed, so they are prone to colds in the early years. Here is how you can provide relief from a stuffy nose for your baby:

  1. Make your own saline solution for your baby with a quarter teaspoon of table salt and half a cup of lukewarm boiled water. Lay the child on his back and instill two to three drops of the saline solution into each nostril.
  2. After about 30 seconds, turn the baby onto the belly and allow the mucus and fluids to drain. You can also use an infant nasal bulb or aspirator to aspirate the secretions.
  3. Provide your child with plenty of warm fluids and water. You can also try using a cool-mist vaporizer in your child’s room at night or raising the head of your child’s bed at night.

If your child has a stuffy nose and cough due to persistent phlegm, you can give them an herbal cough powder. Do not use medicines in children under one-year-old unless prescribed by your doctor. 

Next time you have a cold, use these home remedies to relieve a stuffy nose. Make the best use of traditional medicines and ancient wisdom to combat colds.

References

  1. Mount Sinai. Stuff or runny nose.  
  2. Medical News Today. 10 tips for getting rid of a stuffy nose. 

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