7 Natural Ways To Unblock Your Nose When Suffering From A Cold

Having a congested nose is downright frustrating. Coupled with fever and cold, it makes you irritable throughout the day and sleepless at night. But what causes a blocked or stuffy nose? Nasal congestion is a result of irritation or inflammation of nasal tissues. It could be a result of infections like cold or flu, allergies, and air pollution. A blocked nose is usually marked by mucus buildup, stuffed or runny nose, swollen nasal tissue, and sinus pain. When your nose is blocked, airflow is obstructed in and out of the nasal passage. This may cause pain and a general feeling of annoyance and discomfort (1).

There are plenty of natural remedies you can try to relieve a blocked nose without the use of medicine. The big question is — do all home remedies work? The answer is no. So, to help you, we have compiled a few practical and proven home treatments you can try to unblock your nose if you’re suffering from a cold or flu. Read on to know what these are:

1. Take Echinacea


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Taking natural cold syrups or herbal teas containing echinacea can provide relief from a blocked nose. The native North Americans and Europeans have long used echinacea, also known as purple coneflower, plant preparations to treat symptoms of flu. Echinacea is anti-inflammatory, an excellent laxative, pain reliever, and boosts the immune system. This traditional medicine is effective in battling respiratory tract infections and easing their symptoms (2).

2. Eat Spicy Foods


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We can already feel the tingles. Whether you don’t like spicy food or simply can’t eat it, know that it is actually very effective when you have a cold and your blocked nose is giving you the hardest time. Not only will it trigger sweats, but flush all the liquids, making you feel better and refreshed.

It is common to have a runny nose when you indulge in hot and spicy treats. So, incorporate some spicy food items like red hot pepper, black pepper, garlic, or ginger into your diet, as they can be temporary yet effective solutions to nasal congestion. Capsaicin contained in chilies is a compound that gives them heat. It is effective in treating sinus pain and clearing a stuffy nose. So, not only do the spices add that extra zing to your food; but they also open the nasal passage, get the mucus flowing, and relieve that sinus headache triggered by a blocked nose.

3. Inhale Essential Oils


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Aromatherapy has proven beneficial in warding off a blocked nose. Two commonly used medicinal herbs like peppermint and eucalyptus, have been known to help decongest the nose. You can mix these essential oils with any carrier oil of your choice. Except almond or coconut to dilute them because direct use may cause skin irritation. Use the concoction for a chest rub. You could also put a few drops of these essential oils on a fine cloth and leave them by your head at night or dab a few drops on your temples before you sleep. Alternatively, boil water with a few drops of these essential oils and inhale the steam directly or from a diffuser for instant relief. Electric and candle diffusers are also great options to choose from to inhale the goodness of essential oils (3, 4).

4. Drink Hot Liquids

Drink Hot Liquids

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Homemade, hot, and tasty beverages like teas and soups are amazing to get rid of a stuffy nose immediately. Regularly drinking green tea, chicken soup, or lukewarm water with lemon and honey can soothe a runny nose, cough, sore throat, and blocked nose. The warm liquid not only helps you feel better but also prevents dehydration and the severity of respiratory infections. While that could result from a placebo effect, scientific studies have also confirmed the effectiveness of hot liquids in treating symptoms of common cold and flu (5).

5. Sleep On Your Side


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The quality of sleep is vital for good immunity. Since much of the mucus is trapped in your sinuses when you suffer a blocked nasal passage, it prevents you from breathing freely. So, keeping your head elevated by adding another pillow or tilting on your side, rather than your back while you sleep can help relieve the blockage. Your nose will automatically drain the excess mucus during the night instead of allowing an extra buildup that leads to discomfort and pain.

6. Use A Warm Compress On Your Sinus

Use A Warm Compress On Your Sinus

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By warm compress, we don’t mean a fancy tool like a hot water bag. All you have to do is get any sterilized cloth and lukewarm water. Just like how cold water compress gets your fever down, the warmth will get your nose running in no time and help you feel at ease. Warm compresses work great in reducing inflammation and bringing more blood into the area where they are applied. They can help clear away a blocked nasal passage. You can easily use a moist warm compress by taking a clean cloth, dipping it in warm and not boiling water, wringing off the excess. Place it on your forehead and the area around your nose till it cools off. The warmth of the compress should help your nostrils open up and allow you to breathe easily. Take necessary precautions and never leave the compress on for a long time, or it may cause skin burns.

7. Consume Garlic


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Garlic has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties and can battle inflamed blood vessels. Garlic can also break down mucus trapped in the nasal pathways and fight off bacterial and viral infections (6). Consuming garlic two-three times daily when you are sick is a potent remedy for a blocked nose. Just take four-five whole or crushed cloves of garlic and dip them in a bowl of lukewarm water. Soak them overnight and consume them first thing every morning. If you fancy, you may also chew raw garlic cloves or add them to every meal to reap the most benefits.

While several medicines and decongestants are available over-the-counter or with a doctor’s prescription, it’s good to stick to good ole’ home remedies as these are easy, accessible, and affordable. Also, these have no side effects and can quickly treat and alleviate nasal blocks and swelling of the nasal passage. It would be helpful to know that the best way to prevent blocked nose and other cold or flu symptoms is to keep your immunity strong. With a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and an active lifestyle, this is possible. What other natural home remedies can you think of to unblock your nose? Do share your tips with us in the comments below!


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  1. Flu Symptoms & Complications
  2. Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold
  3. Antioxidant Antimicrobial and Antiviral Properties of Herbal Materials
  4. Virucidal effect of peppermint oil on the enveloped viruses herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in vitro
  5. The effects of a hot drink on nasal airflow and symptoms of common cold and flu
  6. Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Sulfur-Containing Compounds from Garlic
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