9 Natural Decongestant Remedies for Clogged Nose and Ears
Published April 29, 2022
When you’re suffering from nasal and ear congestion, I bet the first thing you do is go to your medicine cabinet and take some decongestants. But even if they’re effective, they can cause undesirable side effects. It’s no wonder why many people are turning to natural decongestant remedies.
Aside from not having to worry about any potential side effects, many of these natural decongestants can easily be found at home. So if you’re suffering from a clogged nose in the middle of the night and can’t go to the pharmacy, these remedies are your best bet.
But to know if these will work on you, you first need to determine why your nose is clogged.
Common Causes of Nasal Congestion
Nasal congestion happens when there are blockages in your nasal airways that prevent the normal flow of air into your lungs. There are lots of factors that can cause this, such as:
- Colds. This is one of the most common causes of a stuffy nose. The common cold is caused by a viral infection that swells up your nasal cavities and blocks your airways. It’s usually harmless and goes away after a few days.
- Flu. It’s a contagious illness caused by the influenza virus. Aside from a stuffy nose, it can cause fever, chills, and a general feeling of fatigue. But like colds, it goes away on its own. Though in some cases, it can be fatal.
- Sinus infection. Commonly known as sinusitis, this happens when the tissues lining your sinuses are inflamed. Among its symptoms are headache, nasal congestion, and loss of smell. Acute cases can last for a couple of weeks but chronic ones may last up to 12 weeks or longer.
- Allergies. Sneezing, itchy nose, teary eyes – these are just some of the signs that your nasal congestion is due to allergies. This usually happens when you are exposed to allergens like dust, pollen, and molds.
- Irritants. Substances like strong acids, solvents, and detergents are not only bad for your skin. It can irritate your nasal airways too causing them to swell up.
- Nasal polyps. These are growths on the lining of your sinuses. If it gets too big, it can block your airways making it hard for you to breathe. This usually requires surgery.
- Deviated septum. This is when the bone or cartilage that divides your nose in half is crooked. As such, one nostril is smaller than the other. Like nasal polyps, this too may need surgery.
The Best Natural Decongestant Remedies
Here are some of the most preferred natural home remedies for sinus congestion:
One factor that worsens your nasal congestion is thick or hardened mucus. They stick to the linings of your airways and prevent air from flowing through.
Drinking lots of water helps you avoid this. If you’re well-hydrated, the mucus that your body produces is much thinner. This makes them drain out of your sinuses more easily.
2. Nasal Irrigation
Nasal irrigation is the process of flushing your nostrils with salt and water solution. The idea behind this is to get rid of all the allergens, bacteria, and any other debris that might have entered your sinuses. This, in turn, prevents infections and allergies.
Salt also has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. So as you irrigate your nostrils, you’re also disinfecting them.
Many people use neti pots to flush their sinuses. But you can also use a bulb syringe or a squeeze bottle. There are also various “sinus rinse” kits available online.
3. Steam Inhalation
Have you noticed that when you’re sick, having a bowl of steaming hot soup or tea makes you feel better? That’s because their steam loosens the mucus in your nose helping them drain better.
Aside from hot soup and tea, you can also do steam therapy. Just pour steaming hot water into a small basin or a washbowl. Then throw a towel over your head and lean over the bowl. Make sure to put your nostrils directly above the steaming water so the moist air can work its way up to your nose.
Dry air can also dry out the mucus in your nose keeping them from draining properly. So if you live in an area with less humidity, try using an air humidifier.
As its name suggests, this device adds moisture to the air. This helps moisturize your nasal passages too making it easier for the mucus to drain from your sinuses.
You can use a humidifier all throughout the day. But most people prefer to use it at night as it helps ease their congestion and have a peaceful night’s sleep.
5. Warm Washcloth/Compress
Applying a warm washcloth or compress to your temples works the same way as steam inhalation. The moist heat from the washcloth helps reduce inflammation and opens up your nasal passages.
You can use any type of washcloth or even a small towel. Soak it in water that’s hot enough not to burn your skin. Squeeze out the extra water then put it over your upper nose and lower forehead. When the water gets cold, you can repeat the process again until your sinus clears up.
6. Spicy Foods
Most spicy foods like chili peppers contain capsaicin. According to studies, capsaicin helps break up mucus and thin them down. The spicy taste also stimulates your body to produce more mucus to wash the offending taste out. All these help improve mucus drainage and de-clog your nasal airways.
7. Saline Nasal Spray
Saline is just a fancy name for saltwater. So a saline nasal spray is basically just a salt and water solution that you spray on your nostrils.
As mentioned, salt has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. But aside from disinfecting your nasal passages, saline sprays also help moisturize them. This helps loosen any hardened mucus making them easier to flush out of your nose.
Also dubbed as the “good bacteria”, probiotics are live microorganisms that are beneficial to your health. Though people tend to associate them with gut health, they can help you get rid of nasal congestion too.
As you know, one of the causes of nasal inflammation is a bacterial infection. When bacteria enter your nose, the dark moist caverns in your sinuses provide the perfect breeding ground for them.
Probiotics help your body fight these harmful bacteria by crowding them out. This prevents them from multiplying and causing further damage.
You can get probiotics from foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented dishes. But if you want more targeted benefits, better opt for supplements. Make sure to pick a supplement specially formulated for ear, throat, and nose health.
9. Hot Shower
Aside from relaxing your muscles and giving you that refreshing feeling, a hot shower also helps clear your nasal passages. It works just like a steam therapy. The steam in the shower breaks down the hardened mucus that’s blocking your airways helping you breathe better.
When to See a Doctor
At the end of the day, home remedies can only do so much. In certain cases, they can only provide temporary relief. If your nasal congestion is due to an underlying medical condition, they won’t be of much help.
So if the above home remedies don’t work or your symptoms worsen, then it’s time to visit your doctor.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a professional writer and SEO specialist. She works hard to ensure her work uses accurate facts by cross checking reputable sources. She is the lead author for several prominent websites covering a variety of topics including law, health, nutrition, and more.