For many years, antibiotics were seen as the solution for treating the common cold. The demand for quick relief from mild colds and cases of flu means that many people took over-the-counter and prescription medicines to tackle pathogens that cause congestion, sore throats, and runny noses. The problem with this approach is that many of these medicines have side effects and have been linked to the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs.
Fortunately, the common cold can be treated with home remedies that reduce congestion and other irritating cold symptoms. These remedies work quickly and efficiently to provide relief and get you back to feeling like yourself. If you’ve come down with the common cold, try these home remedies for congestion to feel better fast.
Causes of Nasal Congestion
Nasal congestion is an acute ailment, meaning that it is typically a short-term problem. Congestion can be caused by bacterial and viral infections such as rhinovirus.
Additionally, nasal congestion can occur as a result of allergic reactions. Also known as allergic rhinitis, these types of reactions are considered overreactions within the immune system. The body’s defenses react to allergens such as dust or pet hair and release an immune attack that results in itchy, watery eyes, difficulty breathing, and nasal congestion.
Rhinitis can also be caused by irritants in a workplace environment such as those where chemicals are used or lots of dust is produced. Rhinitis can also be a side effect of pregnancy and as a result of numerous nasal surgeries lime those to treat sinus infections.
Best Home Remedies For Congestion
Use a Humidifier
A humidifier adds moisture to the air, making it easier to breathe when you’re suffering from a cold or allergic rhinitis. Humidifiers are particularly useful at night and in the winter when the air becomes drier. The moist air can help soothe a cough and reduce sore throat pain. Make sure to clean your humidifier regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria that can make you sick.
A saline rinse using warm water and saline solution can help to clear nasal passages and offer congestion relief. Neti pots are the most popular saline rinse tools thanks to their ease of use. These pots are shaped similarly to a teapot and work to clear the nasal cavity of any obstructions. The saltwater also works to decrease inflammation in blood vessels, helping to reduce swelling that can cause a clogged nose.
Add warm, distilled water to the neti pot and add in a packet of saline. Tilt your head to one side and gently squeeze the pot to flush out your sinuses. It helps to keep your mouth open to make the drainage easier. This process can be messy as you get the hang of it so try it out in the shower first to minimize the mess. You can also use warm salt water to treat other cold symptoms like a sore throat. Simple gargle the saltwater to soothe irritation.
Use A Saline Nasal Spray
A saline nasal spray can help to reduce sinus congestion and sinus pain especially when your congestion is caused by allergies. Doctors typically recommend using one or two sprays per nostril to alleviate congestion. Using nasal spray decongestants too often can cause congestion to worsen. Follow your doctor’s instructions or the guidelines on the nasal spray to avoid negative effects.
Take A Hot Shower
The steam from a hot shower or a hot bath can help you relax, unwind, and decrease congestion. The warm water naturally soothes achy muscles that can result from body aches and the steam adds moisture to the air, helping to thin out mucus. The warm air can also help to ease chest congestion and loosen phlegm. Add a few essential oils such as lavender essential oil or peppermint oil to help ease congestion and boost relaxation.
Use A Warm Compress
A warm compress can help to decrease inflammation that causes sinus congestion. The moist air is easier to breathe than dry air and can help soothe irritated mucous membranes that become inflamed during sinusitis. Run a washcloth under warm water and cover your face with it. Make sure to test the temperature of the hot water on the inside of your wrist to make sure it isn’t too hot.
Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to alleviate symptoms of a stuffy nose. Drinking enough water helps to thin out mucus, making it easier to breathe. Keeping your body hydrated also helps your body fight off pathogens — like those that cause sinus infections — to help eliminate the root cause of your nasal congestion.
Besides drinking water, you can stay hydrated by eating soups and consuming energy drinks. Soup and energy drinks contain salts, vitamins, and minerals your body needs to boost immunity. Try a hot bowl of chicken soup or a warm mug of peppermint tea. The menthol in peppermint tea is particularly effective at improving nasal congestion. That’s because it works to boost blood flow and restrict inflammation that can cause a stuffy nose.
Try A Facial Steam Bath
A facial steam bath can help to reduce congestion by thinning out mucus. Simply fill a large pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. Remove the boiling water from heat and cover your face and head with a towel. Use the towel to create a tent-like structure over your head and the pot. Breathe the steam and vapor in deeply to loosen mucus. In addition, you can add essential oils like eucalyptus oil to maximize results.
Elevate Your Sleep Position
Congestion can feel worse during the night and that’s often a direct result of laying flat. Try to prop yourself up on one or two pillows, focusing on keeping your head and chest elevated. This position allows gravity to help drain stuffed sinuses, making it easier to get much-needed rest and get rid of a cold fast.
Take An Antihistamine
Antihistamines can help to relieve congestion, particularly for people who suffer from stuffed sinuses caused by allergens. Antihistamines work to block the immune reaction to normal stimuli caused by allergic reactions. They are effective at reducing congestion and sinus inflammation that can make it hard to breathe through your nose.
A healthy diet can help you fend off infections and pathogens that cause you to get sick in the first place. While research on vitamin C intake is controversial, many studies show that high doses of vitamin C once you get sick may help to shorten the duration and intensity of the infection (1).
To prevent colds and cases of flu, eat a balanced diet of healthy fats, vegetables, and protein. Avoid processed foods that contain additives, which can weaken the immune system. Limit the amount of sugar you eat and try to eat natural foods whenever possible. You can reduce your sugar intake by making your own salad dressings using apple cider vinegar and by avoiding sugary juices and soft drinks.
Beat Colds Fast With These Home Remedies For Congestion
When flu season hits, be prepared with these natural home remedies for treating a cold. From saline sprays and rinses to staying hydrated and using a humidifier, there are many natural cold remedies to help you feel better fast. These remedies work to reduce chest congestion, sneezing, sinus pressure, and stuffiness without the side effects associated with prescription decongestants. With these DIY cold remedies, you’ll be armed with the tools you need to take on a cold and get back to business.