Stuffy Nose: Causes, Symptoms and 24 Effective Home Remedies

A stuffy nose can make breathing difficult and cause discomfort both day and night. Your friends and relatives can usually tell that you're having problems the moment that you speak.

The quality of your speech suffers and it may also interfere with your ability to properly taste food. There are many potential causes for a stuffy nose, otherwise known as nasal congestion. The best home remedies for relief depend upon the cause.

Symptoms of Nasal Congestion

When your nose is stuffy it is generally a symptom of a health issue. You may experience periods of stuffiness, a runny nose (also more commonly known as post nasal drip), swollen nasal tissues, buildups of mucus and sinus pain. You may or may not develop a fever, depending upon the cause.

Causes of a Stuffy Nose

The most common cause of nasal congestion is the common cold. This is caused by a virus and will usually run its course within a week to ten days. The time can seem to drag on forever, but there are remedies which can alleviate your discomfort while you wait it out.

Other viral infections, flu, sinus infections, hormonal changes during pregnancy, exposure to chemicals or other pollutants or irritants, and allergies may also be the culprit.

You may use deductive reasoning to try to narrow down the cause on your own, or visit your health care provider for a diagnosis.

24 Best Remedies To Get Rid of Blocked Nose

Most people think that nasal congestion is the main cause of a stuffy nose. This is not entirely accurate.

While it contributes to the condition, the actual cause of the tightness and stuffiness is inflammation and swelling of tiny blood vessels within the nasal passages. The irritation occurs because of whatever happens to be causing the infection, e.g. cold, sinusitis, etc.

Here are some of the most effective home remedies to treat stuffy nose.


Use a humidifier

Humidifier spreading steam into the living room

If you are certain that the cause of your nasal congestion is not due to allergies, it can be very helpful to use a humidifier.

Moistening the air in your immediate living environment can help to soothe and relieve dry or swollen nasal passages and reduce the inflammation.

Humidifiers are recommended for use with colds, flu and sinus infections. If you are asthmatic, you may wish to consult with a health care provider before using a humidifier.


Use a dehumidifier

There are situations in which using a dehumidifer to remove moisture from the air is recommended. If you live in an area where humidity levels are high and your nose is stuffy because of allergies, drying things out can help immensely and here is how.

Molds and mildews thrive indooors when the air is too warm and moist. By taking moisture out of the air, it helps to stop the growth of these irritating substances and may relieve your discomfort.


Sleep in an upright position

Positioning your pillows you your are in a slightly propped up position can help to alleviate the misery of your symptoms. This allows for a clearer pathway for draining mucous to leave the nasal cavity.

This can be particularly helpful if the congestion is beginning to break up.


Use warm compresses

Warm compresses are used to help open up the sinuses and also to soothe the irritated membranes. A warm cloth may be used. Moisten a washcloth and fold it into a few layers so it retains the heat.

You may either dip it into warm water and wring it out, or place it into a microwave oven for a few seconds, but be careful not to get it so hot that it burns your skin.

You can make or purchase packs that are designed for hot or cold use. They contain flax seeds and often lavender or eucalyptus and may be cooled in the freezer or warmed in the microwave, then placed over the bridge of the nose.

Be careful not to overheat them to avoid burning. The heat can help to provide soothing relief for nasal congestion.


Increase your liquid intake

drink water fluid

Drink lots of water

Clear clean water is important for keeping you hydrated when you are under the weather. It also helps to moisten your throat and nasal passages in addition to breaking up congestion.

A minimum of 80 ounces (around 2 liters) per day is recommended. Some people find it difficult to drink this much water in a day. You can also try supplementing with sports drinks, chicken soup broth, fruit juices and herbal teas.


Give yourself a good steam

Breathing in steam helps to loosen nasal congestion. You must take care not to breathe in steam that is too hot. There are a few different ways to do this.

You can turn on a hot shower and either jump in or just sit in the warm steamy room for 15 to 20 minutes. You can also boil water in a pot on the stove and drape a towel over your head to catch more of the steam.


Blow your nose the right way

Blowing your nose can help to clear out mucus, but if you apply too much pressure, you can force mucus backwards leading to ear problems.

Plug one side of your nose with your finger and gently blow the other side, clearing away as much mucus as possible. Repeat with the other side.


Use salt water rinses

Salt water is an old time remedy for a stuffy nose that has been in use for hundreds of years. To get the right proportions,


Mix one and a half teaspoons of salt with one half teaspoon of baking soda together.

This is enough to mix with 16 ounces of warm water for rinsing. There are a couple of effective methods for salt water rinsing.


You may use a Neti pot or a bulb syringe to shoot the salt water into your nostril.

Neti pots have a unique design that allows them to push the water through your nasal passages for maximum results in cleansing and soothing irritated tissues.


To avoid causing damage to your ears, hold one side of the nose closed with your finger and lean your head over a sink or basin.

Gently squeeze the salt water into your nose. Allow the solution and whatever it dislodges to drain, then repeat with the other side.

You should always make sure that your bulb or neti pot are thoroughly cleaned and dried before and after each use to avoid contamination or possibly worsening your condition.

Use a mild soap solution with warm water to wash, rinse with clean water and allow to air dry.


Over the counter nasal sprays

There are a variety of different types of nasal sprays which can be purchased over the counter. Simple saline spray is the most natural type that is free of chemicals and synthetic compounds. It can help to soothe the inflammation which will in turn decrease the stuffiness.

It also helps in breaking mucus loose so it can more quickly drain. This type is more highly recommended for children and babies. When using with babies, it is important to use an aspirator to clear the fluids and mucous from the nasal passages as they are unable to do so for themselves.

Medicated sinus sprays may also be used for fast relief. There are several types that may be purchased over the counter. Some contain antihistamines and or nasal steroids.

They may act more quickly in reducing inflammation and reducing congestion. Nasal sprays should not be used without doctor's advice for more than three consecutive days as extended use may actually worsen the problem.


Use decongestants

You may also use over the counter decongestants to treat a stuffy nose. There are formulations that are specified for daytime or night time use. Some of them can cause drowsiness or may have a stimulant effect.

If you have high blood pressure, look for types that are labeled as safe for use with this condition.


Use mentholatum

Any type of mentholatum rub can help to loosen congestion to relieve a stuffy nose. Avoid putting it inside of the nasal passages. It can be placed in a humidifier so it permeates the air, or you can place it on a cloth alonside of your head as you sleep at night.

You can also benefit from rubbing a small amount just under the nose, on the throat, chest and back.


Apply breathing strips

Narrow breathing strips which are applied directly on top of the bridge of the nose can bring a lot of relief from a stuffy nose. This will allow you to get a better night's rest.

Sleep is an important factor when rallying the body to fight a cold, flu or to deal with allergies. Your body repairs itself as you sleep at night.

Too many sleepless nights with tossing and turning and frequent disruptions can help to slow the healing process.


Remove mold, mildew and dust from home

If your stuffy nose is caused by allergies, finding and removing the culprits can relieve the condition. If there is mold and mildew growing on window sills, in corners of the bathroom or any other areas that are frequently damp, this could be the cause of your stuffiness.

Dust is another potential allergen. If you are certain that allergies are the cause of the problem, keep your living area as dust free as possible. Take precautions to avoid breathing in any spores that are loosened during the cleaning process.

Use a mask and gloves when cleaning and use products that retard the growth of mold and fungus for a cleaner and healthier environment.


Drink a hot beverage

Make a hot cup of herbal tea that is as warm as you can tolerate, but don't subject yourself to burns. Herbal tea with a teaspoon of honey can actually help to soothe irritated membranes and the steam will help to loosen congestion in your nasal passages.

Another home remedy for relieving a stuffy nose is the hot toddy. This is for adults only and is effective if you limit yourself to only one. To make the toddy;

  • Prepare one cup of herbal tea of your preference. 
  • Add one ounce of whiskey
  • and one teaspoon of honey.

In small amounts, hot toddys help to relieve inflammation in the nose and loosen mucus.


Reduce duration with vitamins and minerals

When you are under the weather your body may become run down and deprived of necessary nutrients. It is a good idea to make sure that you are taking vitamin and mineral supplements.

Extra doses of vitamin C along with garlic supplements can help to give your immune system the jump start that it needs.

This remedy is useful for shortening the duration of a cold or the flu. If your congestion is caused by allergies is will have little effect other than to be good for your overall health.


Eucalyptus oil steam

Oils extracted from the leaves of the Eucalyptus plant work well for loosening congestion. Boil water until it begins to steam and add a few drops of the Eucalyptus oil.

Make a tent over your head with a clean dry towel and catch the steam. Stand back far enough so when the steam reaches your face it has cooled to avoid burning your face. Inhale the steam for up to 10 minutes per treatment once or twice a day.


Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar helps to unblock a stuffy nose. Combine one tablespoon of honey and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with one cup of warm water and drink.


Use Honey

Drinking a large glass of warm water that contains two teaspoons of pure honey can help to alleviate a stuffy nose. It does not work immediately, but it does contribute to relief, especially when combined with other remedies.


Ginger tea

Ginger is an herb that contains several compounds with healing properties. It functions as an anti-fungal, and anti-viral, and anti-bacterial and it contains antioxidants for eliminating free radicals in the systems of the body that cause cellular damage, weaken the immune system and open the body up to sickness.

  • Grate fresh ginger and steep in hot water for 3 to 4 minutes. 
  • Remove the ginger
  • and add honey and lemon for increased health benefits and to improve the taste.

This age old remedy has been used for centuries to treat stuffy nose and several other ailments.


Vinegar steam

A good way to get instant relief from a stuffy nose is to boil a small amount of vinegar and inhale the steam. It works quickly to loosen mucus so you can breathe easier.


Basil leaves

There are two ways to use basil as a remedy for nasal congestion. The first method is to chew approximately 3 fresh basil leaves in the morning and in the evening.

The second is to steep fresh basil leaves in hot water to make a tea. You may sweeten with honey and flavor with lemon juice.


Spicy foods

Eating spoods that contain spices such as chilis and other hot peppers, black pepper, wasabi, onions and garlic can help to unblock a stuffy nose.

In addition, eating hot foods such as soups and beverages can help to loosen phlegm and mucus.



Boil fenugreek seeds and cool until still warm, but not hot enough to burn you. Strain the seeds and drink with water. This can be repeated up to 3 times per day for fast results.

When to seek medical help?

If your condition does not improve in a week's time, you should consult with your health care provider. He or she may prescribe a nasal spray that contains antibiotics, or prescribe it in some other form, such as pills if the infection is severe.

There are times when home remedies cannot address the root of the problem and professional medical intervention may be necessary. If there is a green or yellowish thick discharge from the nostrils, you have an infection that may not go away on its own.

Final thoughts

There are many effective home remedies that are useful for getting rid of a stuffy nose. This issue can be miserable and drain you of energy and the ability to perform at your peak.

Not all colds or minor nasal congestion issues require the aid of a physician for treatment. While it is important to seek help when it is truly needed, there are times when there is little that a doctor can do that you cannot do for yourself.

There is no substitute for prevention and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but nearly everyone will deal with a stuffy nose at some point in their lives. For some, the issue is more frequent than for others.

Eating a healthy balanced diet, getting the required amounts of water and exercise and taking vitamin and mineral supplements to keep the body in good health are a great place to start.

When you do end up with a stuffy nose, there are several different ways that you can deal with it for fast relief. You may use any single remedy listed or try a combination to find those that work the best in your case.

Over the counter medications can work very quickly, but keep in mind that there are items for home remedies sitting on your kitchen shelf that can give you effective relief, often, just as fast.

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