You don’t want to catch it, but you know it’s coming when almost everyone around you is blowing their nose during flu season: a stuffy nose. It’s hard to concentrate on your tasks when breathing is such a tough job, and you have to wipe your nose every couple of minutes. The stuffiness will go away on its own, but a fast recovery is always better. Here are some ways to quickly get rid of a stuffy nose:
- Take decongestants and analgesics: While decongestants and analgesics don’t get rid of the virus or the real cause of the stuffy nose, they can reduce its symptoms, making you feel loads better. Take an over-the-counter decongestant and an analgesic to quickly reduce the stuffiness of your nose. Decongestants work by tapering down your sinuses’ inflammation, allowing mucus to freely drain out. An analgesic like ibuprofen can increase the effectiveness of the decongestant, alleviating your symptoms.
- Exercise regularly: The benefits of regular exercise to your body are tremendous. It improves the condition of your respiratory system, making it more resistant to viral and bacterial infections. Exercise regularly, even during winter months, to reduce your risk of having sinusitis.
- Load up on vitamin C: Vitamin C toughens up your body against viral and bacterial infections. Take some vitamin C supplements to lessen your risk of having a stuffy nose. Eat fruits and drink fruit juices to make sure you have enough of this vitamin every day. You can also do some research on foods that contain lots of vitamin C to be more prepared for the next flu season.
- Take corticosteroids and antibiotics: Acute sinusitis is usually caused by bacteria and lasts for two to three weeks. Take some antibiotics and use a corticosteroid nasal spray if your doctor diagnoses you with acute sinusitis. Experts have recently found that antibiotic nasal sprays are very effective against the symptoms of acute sinusitis, so talk to your doctor about using one.
- Antifungal medications and corticosteroids: Chronic sinusitis usually results from a fungal infection and lasts for more than three weeks. If your sinusitis is chronic, it’s best to treat it with corticosteroids and antifungal medications. Consult your doctor regularly and update him with the results of your treatment. Open communication between you and your doctor will prevent complications from developing.
- Fight allergies with antihistamines: It’s possible that your stuffy nose is not caused by a viral or bacterial infection, but an allergy. Taking antihistamines can quickly reduce the symptoms of your allergy. It’s not advisable to take too much of this medication though, so you have to find out what causes your allergic reaction and do something about it; for instance, if you’re allergic to dander, then consider getting rid of your furry pets (For cats, here are tips on how to get rid of cat dander). Left untreated, a stuffy nose caused by allergy can develop into chronic sinusitis.
- Don’t blow your nose hard: Contrary to what many people think, blowing your nose hard doesn’t improve your condition but actually makes it worse. Sinuses can tear if you put too much force when blowing your nose, resulting in the opposite of what you want to achieve. Your sinuses will get more irritated, inflamed, and you’ll find it harder to breathe. Blow your nose gently and quietly to get rid of the mucus without damaging your sinuses.
- Stop smoking: Smoking cigarettes and tobacco doesn’t reduce the stuffiness in any way. In fact, cigarette smoke damages your sinuses’ lining and causes swelling in the sinus membranes. In time, your acute sinusitis will develop into chronic sinusitis if you continue to smoke. Your habit may not be the only cause of your chronic sinusitis, though. It’s possible that you have a fungal or bacterial infection that you’ve been carrying for a long time. (Learn more about how to quit smoking)
- Gargle saltwater: Gargling saltwater is an old home remedy for stuffy nose. Saltwater flushes out mucus and kills the bacteria that might be causing the stuffiness. Put half a teaspoon of salt into a cup of water, and then gargle the solution for about a minute. Do this home remedy every day and you’ll notice that your symptoms will eventually go away.
- Use eucalyptus oil: Expectorate with the effervescence of eucalyptus oil to improve your condition. You may also add it to the water of your humidifier or rub it on your chest to loosen the sticky mucus in your chest and sinuses. Some people also boil the oil in water and then inhale it for quick relief. All of these home remedies are good substitutes for decongestant drugs.
- Apply a moist heat compress: Apply a moist heat compress to your face three to five times a day for about 10 minutes to alleviate your symptoms. Moisture helps normalize your nose and heat dilates your capillaries and blood vessels, helping your body to fight the infection.
- Get a humidifier: Another possible cause of stuffy nose is dry air. Humidity in the air goes away when winter ushers in cold, dry air into your home. If you don’t remember getting close to people who have stuffy noses, then the cause of your condition may not be infection but simply the lack of humidity. Get a humidifier to provide the humidity you need to breathe normally. It’s best to use a humidifier that vaporizes steam because it prevents the dispersal of mold and fungal spores into the air.
- Don’t use OTC nasal sprays: Over-the-counter nasal sprays are easy to get, but it’s wise in light of recent research to just forget about them. According to recent studies, these medications are addictive and may cause the symptoms they are supposed to get rid of once you stop using them. Nasal sprays containing oxymetazoline can damage the sinuses’ lining, resulting in chronic sinusitis if used for more than three days. When it comes to nasal sprays, it’s safer to use a corticosteroid nasal spray instead of an OTC nasal spray.
The best way to avoid a stuffy nose is to stay away from people who already have stuffy noses. You should also be aware of your allergies and get rid of things in your home and workplace that may trigger symptoms (For more information on eliminating allergens, Read how to reduce allergens in your home). Consult your doctor if you can’t get rid of your symptoms after a long period of time because you might be suffering from chronic sinusitis.
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