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How To Get Rid Of A Stuffy Nose Quickly

Updated on November 5, 2011

How To Get Rid Of A Stuffy Nose Quickly

Nobody hates the feeling of a stuffy nose more than yours truly, in fact -- I loathe it. Given also my predisposition towards an incessant array of flus and colds, the years have armed me with an arsenal of quick-fixes, definitive long-term solutions and a wealth of tragic experience in treating the abominable stuffy nose.

The vast majority of these remedies are natural or over the counter and widely available. There are many ways and methods to clear up your nose, my objective is simply to provide a wealth of options and a realistic assessment of how well the methods themselves work. We'll start with the most common ways and work our way to some little known strategies.


Before You Buy

Before you shoot for an over-the-counter decongestant determine whether you are suffering from a cold, flu or an allergy. Bear in mind that an allergic reaction may require anti-histamines. If in doubt about the diagnosis, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

No Medication? No Problem!

Let's start with some easily concocted home remedies that require some elementary preparation (and do the trick).

  • Salt Water - Flush out the nasal cavities with warm saline water by using a neti pot, a spray or by getting creative with gravity (it'll work one way or another).
  • Vicks Vaporub - In my opinion Vicks, while extremely common and handy in cases of mild congestion, is often used incorrectly. Applying a sheen of this topical ointment to the chest (usually before sleep) or throat improves circulation and thins congestion. However, the ointment contains Camphor, which is toxic if absorbed by the body, so avoid lining the nostrils with it!
  • Sniffing An Onion - Out of Vicks? This cheap and efficient home made method mimics the actions of other commercial decongestants (or rather, they mimic it) by stimulating the nose to run and thereby flush itself naturally.
  • Take A Hot Shower - Slowly and deeply inhaling steam has an immensely beneficial effect on clearing all air passages (which may include vaporizing drainage piling up in the throat).
  • Spicy Foods - Another widely available food source that makes your nose run are spicy foods. If you're hungry you'll be killing two birds with one stone!

Commercial Decongestants

In most cases the question of how to get rid of a stuffy nose quickly can easily can be answered with home remedies. But the one edge which many commercial options which can be found in pharmacies are speed (another advantage of course is that you can describe the symptoms for a double check on your diagnosis free of charge). In the case of a common cold or flu, you might consider:

  • Afrin - A single ingredient OTC decongestant that boasts 12 hour relief, including severe congestion. Speedy? Yes, and widely popular -- however it may not be necessary in most cases.
  • Pseudophedrine - You can pick up doses (usually in pill form) over the counter at pharmacies, although there can be some unpleasant side-effects such as drowsiness and an irregular heart beat. I'm not a fan! If you already take medication, particularly blood pressure medication, consult a doctor before taking any OTC solution.
  • Antihistamines - Some symptoms may be better treated with antihistamines rather than a decongestant. If you are suffering from itchy eyes, and your nose is already running, consider asking your pharmacist for an antihistamine instead.

Remember that decongestants and antihistamines do not treat the condition that led to the stuffy nose in the first place, but are only used to hasten recovery and treat the discomfort of the symptoms involved.

Catalysts For Recovery

Beyond simply addressing the symptoms, remember that simple things such as increasing the amount of sleep and rest you take during your illness can drastically reduce downtime. Your water intake should also be high in order to combat dehydration and flush out toxins.

Contrary to what most people say, a moderate amount of exercise (if you can, and bolstered by fitful rest) can help relieve a stuffy nose (by breaking clogged sinuses). If you are in bad shape, have a fever or are rolling your eyes merely at the thought of leaving the bed, exercise may do more harm than good! Don't underestimate your body's ability to communicate with you, if you don't feel like something -- don't do it! If you are feeling peckish for certain foods, try them out!


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    • profile image

      Bart 4 years ago

      Hmmm, one to ponder. I find it inetresting how we as humans look for human faces in things- like tree trunks, etc. When I feed the baby, I sometimes stare at the fluffy rug long enough it starts to look like there is a face in it!

    • billabongbob profile image

      billabongbob 6 years ago from South Wales, UK

      Today I don't have a stuffy nose, today I can't stop it running. I've got flu for the 2nd time in a month :(. I seem to of been fairly immune to colds and flu for 20 years. When everyone around me claimed that they were dying, I would feel perfectly fine, not even a sniffle. I would only be affected once every 5-6 years. I have been ill with flu 3 times this year.

      I do get a stuffy nose from time to time and I used to take prescription meds for it, but they were keeping me awake more than I already am (chronic insomnia), so I stopped taking them.

      Thanks for yet another wonderful hub thoogun.