One of the worst things about allergies or the common cold is the nasal congestion that’s often associated with them. When you can’t breathe through your nose properly, you’re eager to find relief. Unfortunately, the relief that you do find is often temporary. For example, things like over-the-counter nasal spray decongestants. While these types of medications will make breathing a bit easier at least for a short amount of time, overuse of these medications can actually result in a condition known as rebound congestion. When you develop rebound congestion, this means nasal congestion you already have actually worsens. The only way you that can resolve rebound congestion is to withdraw use of the decongestant responsible for causing it in the first place and switch to a natural saline nasal spray. This will relive dry nasal passages and restore moisture to them.
As for other ways you can relieve a stuffy nose, you can also try using something known as Neti Pot. These work by mixing water and a saline solution into the Neti Pot and flushing each sinus out with it. It is better than using just a saline spray alone, as there is more pressure when a Neti Pot is involved, which rids mucus build-up. When using water, make sure it is boiled (and then left to cool to a lukewarm temperature before using it to avoid the risk of burning your nasal passages) or distilled. You should avoid using water that has been sitting/cooled to avoid the risk of any bacteria entering into your nasal passages and sinus cavity, which could lead to infection.
Another great, albeit temporary way to relieve nasal congestion that Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests is to take a hot shower. The steam from a hot shower can help to break up mucus, allowing the nose to drain better and significantly improve your breathing – giving you some momentary relief; and you can do this as many times as you’d like throughout the day.
Essential oils, such as eucalyptus or peppermint oil, can also be great in relieving nasal congestion and other symptoms of the common cold. Simply place a few drops in a diffuser or in your shower/bath. When you inhale these types of oils, they can decrease inflammation of the nasal lining as well as make it easier for you to breathe. In addition to relieving eucalyptus oil is also commonly used to relieve coughs, provide relief from asthma, and also works as a great joint and muscle pain reliever. Similarly, peppermint oil also has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
If you suffer from chronic nasal congestion, then you might have a sinus problem and may need to be referred to an Otolaryngologist (also known as an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist) to determine what the underlying cause is. Commonly, patients who experience frequent nasal congestion or reoccurring sinusitis/sinus infections will either have chronic allergies or nasal polyps, or they may have a deviated/damaged septum. If this is the case, you may first be prescribed a medicated nasal spray, such as Nasonex, to see if that decreases the polyps. If not, then you may be a candidate for endoscopic sinus surgery. However, it’s important to note that even if you do get this type of procedure, polyps can always return. If allergies are the culprit, then Nasonex is also commonly used to provide ongoing relief, in addition to over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Benadryl or Reactine.