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Nasal congestion (or stuffy nose) is a recurrent symptom in many respiratory illnesses. It is characterized by the build up of mucus in the nasal cavity and inflammation of the respiratory mucous membranes. Nasal congestion is synonymous with stuffy nose and nasal obstruction.
We are talking about a common respiratory tract disorder, characterized by two constant elements:
- Build up of mucus inside the nasal cavity
- Inflammation of the nasal cavity lining tissues
Nasal congestion causes and symptoms
Nasal congestion may be due to multiple morbid conditions: allergies, nasal septal defect, hay fever, pregnancy, viral infections of the respiratory tract, adenoid ingrowth, nasal polyposis, colds, gastric reflux, sinusitis and the administration of certain medications.
Closed nose care is subordinate to the triggering cause: antihistamines (for allergic stuffy nose), NSAIDs, paracetamol and aspirin (for influenza-related nasal congestion), and decongestants. When necessary, removal of adenoids is an effective remedy for nasal congestion related to enlarged adenoids.
Nasal congestion may occur as a symptom of a large number of respiratory issues, including respiratory obstruction, conjunctival congestion, rhinorrhea, viral rhinitis, allergies, colds and many more.
Everyone, at least once in a lifetime, has complained of nasal congestion symptoms: from what is said, one understands how much the disorder is widespread and frequent.
Nasal congestion can trigger variable symptoms: hearing impairment and language skills, nighttime apnea, difficulty resting, dyspnoea, snoring. Complications are hypoxia, choking sensation, heart failure (in cases where stuffy nose is associated with enlargement of the adenoids).
Although it is a popular disease (if it is possible to define it as such), nasal congestion creates more or less important discomfort, especially when it manifests itself in its chronic form. However, patients affected by nasal congestion tend to self-manage the disorder, resorting to natural do-it-yourself remedies, or drug therapy recommended by friends or relatives.
Even though it is a totally reversible phenomenon and simple resolution (in most cases), we must not forget the advice of expert figures in the healthcare industry, which are always fundamental. In fact, the neglect of the disease causes the phenomenon of nasal congestion to be largely ignored in its epidemiological dimension: the consequences of this approach – obviously incorrect – trigger a number of effects not only for the patient but also for the healthcare system in self.
The purpose of this article is to inform the reader about the causes, symptoms and consequences of the disease, and provide an extended list of natural remedies you can make use of at home. Despite the therapeutic strategies described, let us remember that the request for a medical consultation is always and always the first consideration to be taken, even in the case of a simple disorder such as nasal congestion. Nasal congestion is recognized as the main cause of respiratory mucous membrane inflammation.
But what causes nasal congestion in the first place? The most common causes of nasal congestion are:
Pollen allergies and seasonal allergies, nasal seepage deviation, hay fever, pregnancy, inhalation (passive or active) of large quantities of cigarette smoke, respiratory tract infections, influenza, adenoid inflammation: nasal congestion dependent on this disease is a serious problem. in fact, especially affected children, may develop nighttime apnea, hypoxia, and even heart failure., nasal polyp , cold, rhinitis and sinusitis. Administration of certain drugs (nasal drops or nasal sprays formulated with oxymetazoline, phenylephrine, xylometazoline, morniflumate, nafazoline) can also result in nasal congestion.
Particular is the correlation between stuffy nose and gastric reflux: many patients with reflux disease also complain of chronic sinusitis (hence chronic nasal congestion). Probably, acid reflux can reach the nose-pharyngeal area, creating irritation and inflammation also in the respiratory mucosa. It is no coincidence that reflux medicines have been extremely effective in the treatment of nasal congestion associated with this disease.
If in the adult or adolescent, nasal congestion constitutes “only” an early resolute discomfort, in the newborn stuffy nose can produce serious consequences. Unconsciously, the newborn tends to breathe only with the nose: therefore, nasal congestion in the newly born baby may interfere with lactation (it cannot eat properly), as well as cause serious respiratory deficits.
Nasal congestion patients often complain about difficulty associated with rest: stuffy nose is in fact correlated with snoring and nightlight apnoea. As anticipated, patients suffering from adenoid ingrowth and nasal congestion are also exposed to severe respiratory problems, such as hyposis, heavening sensation and heart failure. In such circumstances, surgical intervention (removal of adenoids / tonsils) is the most effective remedy ever.
Often, nasal congestion is not a phenomenon in itself since it is a symptom common to many diseases. Most people affected by nasal congestion complained of other symptoms simultaneously: nasal bleeding, facial pain, temperature, lack of appetite, tearing, headache, general malaise and cough. When nasal congestion occurs only in a nostril, it is likely that the child has inserted a small object in the nose.
Treatment for nasal congestion depends on the underlying cause. When the stuffy nose occurs in the event of flu or cold, the most commonly used drugs are to relieve the general symptoms: paracetamol (antipyretic par excellence), aspirin and other NSAIDs (e.g. ibuprofen), with anti-inflammatory and anti-wrinkle action, are absolute The most used active ingredients.
If nasal congestion is related to allergic reactions, antihistamines, possibly associated with corticosteroids, exert excellently their therapeutic function. Remission of allergic symptoms also includes healing from nasal congestion. Children affected by enlarged adenoids are generally subjected to surgery to remove them. By doing so, the small patient can completely recover from hypoxia and night apnea, which often accompany the disturbance of enlarged adenoids.
Regardless of the triggering factor, most people affected by nasal congestion benefit from the administration of oral decongestants, such as ephedrine, pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine. The same active ingredients can be formulated as nasal sprays. It is recommended not to abuse these decongestant medicines: paradoxically, stubborn use could even aggravate the clinical picture of nasal congestion.
Natural home remedies for congestion
- Drain the mucus by using a saline-based solution (nasal irrigation) to instill directly into the nose. The remedy is especially suitable for small nose-impaired children, who can not blush their nose alone
- Sleep with the slightly raised headboard (place a cushion under the mattress, in line with the head resting point): doing so, the patient with a stuffy nose can rest better, and breathing is favored
- Rinse your nose frequently, preferably using hand-made paper handkerchiefs
- Take care of the cause that comes to the origins of the stuffy nose
- Drink plenty of liquids, especially warm
- Using the aid of nasal or humidifier vaporizers, useful in favoring the fluidization of the mucus, therefore the release from the stuffy nose
- Consult your doctor immediately if the patient with a stuffy nose is younger than 2 months old and has high fever
- Avoid thermal swings
- Cover your nose and throat with a scarf before going out
Below we list things that you are not recommended to do when nasal congestion ails you:
- Driving or doing hazardous work after abundant administration of antihistamines: drowsiness is one of the side effects of these medicines
- Take antihistamines / corticosteroids without a prescription
- Take antihistamines for the nose care in case of hypertension or cardiac arrhythmias: the administration of these drugs increases the heart rate and raises blood pressure
- Use corticosteroid drugs for long periods
- Take antihistamines for long periods
- Sleeping in the prone position (belly down)
- Swallow the mucus
- Continually blow your nose in the same handkerchief
Hot liquids are particularly suitable for ease of mucus dissolution, thus releasing the nose: broth, hot milk, tea, herbal teas, infusions etc. Increase your intake of fruit and vegetables rich in vitamin C, useful in strengthening immune defenses and ensuring optimal body efficiency. There is no scientific evidence that food relations are getting worse with the symptoms associated with stuffy nose.
Stuffy nose prevention consists essentially of enhancing immune defenses: flu and cold are, in fact, viral / bacterial insults to the immune system. To do this we recommend avoiding temperature fluctuations and following a diet rich in antioxidants (vitamin C and vitamin E). It is not possible to prevent an allergy-dependent congestion, unless taking antihistamines or prophylactic-specific vaccines. When stuffy noseis caused by the adenoid ingrowth, the optimal treatment consists in the surgical removal of the adenoids. The nasal septum (septoplasty) plastic is the correction of nasal septal deflection, possibly causing the nose to get stuffy with pathological regularity.
Natural remedies for congestion
Among the natural remedies for stuffy nose, steam inhalations have a prestigious role: the technique of inhalation consists in the reduction of a substance in steam, for purely therapeutic purposes. Inhalations, as the name itself imply, presuppose inhalation of steam, ensuring an immediate perception of comfort.
The most common natural drugs for accelerating congestion healing are:
- Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) used in this case for anti-inflammatory properties;
- Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus Labill) – anti-inflammatory, expectorant, balsamic properties;
- Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) – antiseptic properties;
- Lemon (Citrus limon) – antiseptic and antioxidant properties;
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – balsamic, expectorant, antioxidant properties;
- Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium L. var. Bitter) – disinfectant, anti-inflammatory, decongestant properties;
- Sodium benzoate – expectorant action, which facilitates the elimination of mucus;
- Ephedrine (extracted from Ephedra sinica), used for its decongestant properties, especially when used as decoction (as in Chinese folk medicine).
9. Inhalations with sodium bicarbonate
This is probably the most commonly used natural remedy in the case of a stuffy nose, to be followed for a few days until the symptoms disappear. Bring one liter of water to a boil in a saucepan, wait a couple of minutes and pour into it a spoon of sodium bicarbonate. All you have to do is cover your head with a towel and breathe in the full steam of hot water.
10. Inhalations with eucalyptus
Eucalyptus essential oil is an excellent remedy for the stuffy nose and sometimes it is an ingredient of herbal nasal spray. It can be used in addition or in replacement of sodium bicarbonate to make inhalations. Just a few drops are enough to pour into a liter of boiling water. The best time to devote to inhalations is in the evening, so that the nose can be released during the night. Eucalyptus bark is particularly suitable for releasing the respiratory tract in the case of nasal congestion and are also good for sore throat. You can use the essential eucalyptus oil in addition or in replacement of sodium bicarbonate. Just a few drops (4 or 5) are enough to pour in a liter of boiling water. Eucalyptus suffers are especially suitable in the evening to breathe better during sleep.
11. Hot drinks
Drinking cold drinks in the event of colds helps to mitigate nasal congestion. The same effect can be obtained by choosing a warm velvet or a minestrone prepared with vegetable soup for lunch or dinner. Three best hot drinks to be taken in case of cold and stuffy nose are ginger herbs and herbal teas, which also helps strengthen immune defenses.
Peeling and slicing onions does not only cause the burning to the eyes and tear, but it also helps to reduce nasal congestion, thanks to the onions released from the onion that, when breathed, help stimulate the nose in getting rid of it. By cutting an onion you should breathe very deeply to achieve the desired effect.
13. Humidify the air
Nasal congestion may be worse if you spend a lot of time in areas where the air is too dry. When you come back and find yourself in the kitchen, moisten the air by placing a pot of water on fire, in which to add citrus peels and a pinch of cinnamon, in addition to a teaspoon of vinegar, considered to be able to stimulate the nose to reduce congestion caused by colds.
The reference is above all to hot spices, which are believed to be able to automatically stimulate the nose, so that it is released starting to spin in order to eject the mucus. Among the spices useful for this purpose there are not only pepper, ginger, but also black pepper and long pepper, an oriental spice recommended by Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine, in the event of colds. Long pepper should be ground or grated and used to season the dishes, as with other spices.
15. Sesame oil
Another natural ayurvedic remedy that can be used in colds and nasal congestion is sesame oil. Sesame oil should be applied, preferably after being stained, with fingers in very few drops inside the nasal cavities. So applied, sesame oil should not be inhaled, but simply gently rubbed inside the nostrils to solve the problem of mucus dryness and counteract nasal congestion, favoring the elimination of the mucus.
16. Neti pot
Neti pot is a tool similar to a small teapot, used in Ayurveda for the cleaning of the nasal cavities, which takes the name of “Jala Neti”. Neti pot is filled with water to which a pinch of salt or turmeric is usually added. Through the nozzle and keeping the head tilted, water can pass through a nostril and be expelled from the other, leading to complete cleansing of the nasal cavities.
17. Salt inhalations
If at the time you have to solve the problem of the stuffy nose you realize that you do not have either the essential oil of eucalyptus or sodium bicarbonate, you can use coarse salt, usually always present in the kitchen. Boil a liter of water in a pot and turn off the fire. Pour a large spoonful of salt into the water and mix. Breathe the vapors released for ten minutes, covering your head with a towel.
From a nutritional point of view, natural remedies are expected to reduce dairy consumption so as not to contribute to the formation of excess mucus, as well as alcohol, which can cause dehydration and increase the dryness of nasal cavities, and chocolate, which can accentuate the inflammatory state of the body. To encourage the disappearance of nasal congestion and cold, it is usually recommended to consume orange juice and fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, also in order to stimulate immune defenses.
19. Camomile inhalations
Camomile has soothing properties and helps to release the respiratory tract. In the case of colds it is also useful in the form of herbal tea. To prepare the chamomile inlalation, pour a handful of dried camomile flowers into a pot with boiling water. If you want, you can add one teaspoon of baking soda. Camomile inhalations are also useful in case of otitis aggravated by the presence of mucus. If you do not have the camomile flowers available, use a regular herbal tea bag based on this ingredient.
20. Tea Tree Oil Inhalations
Tea Tree Oil is an essential oil with many healing properties. It is considered to be very useful when the first symptoms of flu and winter maladies are present, which may include colds, sore throat and closed nose. Against influenza symptoms you can add 5 drops of essential tea tree oil to the boiling water you will use for inhalations, pouring it directly into the pot.
21. Spicy expectorant remedy
Prepare a decongestant and expectorant remedy based on ginger powder, cayenne pepper, organic honey, lemon juice and apple vinegar. It helps expel the mucus and reduce its production. Honey, cayenne pepper and ginger are natural expectorants. To prepare this remedy you will need: ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon of ginger powder, 3 tablespoons of organic honey, 60 ml of lemon juice and 60 ml of apple vinegar. Pour vinegar and lemon juice into a pan and heat until the liquid is simmer. Add honey, ginger, cayenne pepper and mix. Store in a jar of glass, in a cool place and sheltered from the light. Shake before use. Take 1 or 2 tablespoons of the preparation every day. Take a spoon overnight if you wake up suddenly with your nose closed. The remedy is maintained for a long time. Consider honey expiration date.
22. Saline solution
On the market we find numerous salt sprays to be used in the case of a closed nose. Here we will show you how to easily prepare a saline solution as a home remedy. You will need to have a sterilized flask of about 220 ml in which to pour it and a nebulizer suitable for applying it. You will need: 1 cup of water, ¼ teaspoon of non-iodinated salt and ¼ teaspoon of bicarbonate of sodium. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Pour salt and bicarbonate and mix until dissolved. Allow the saline to cool until it is at room temperature before pouring into the selected container without filtration.
23. Decongestant with lemon and onions
Here are some useful tips for preparing a natural expectorant based on garlic, onions, honey, lemon juice and radishes. It is a very useful remedy against congestion at the nose and chest level. To prepare it you will need: 240 ml of lemon juice, 300 gr of honey, 5-7 radishes, 1 small red onion and 6 cloves of garlic. Wash, peel and slice onions, garlic and radishes. Pour into the blender together with honey and lemon juice. Smear until you get a homogeneous mixture as much as possible. Filter with a colander. Pour it into a glass jar with lid. The preparation is stored in the fridge for about a week. The doses are 2 tablespoons per day for adults and 1 spoon a day for children. The expectorant effect begins after 24 hours.
24. Expectorant lotion
Here is a simple recipe for a decongestant and expectorant lotion to be prepared in just a few minutes at the time of need. It is a simple compound composed of olive oil and essential oils, to be massaged on the chest to facilitate the elimination and dissolution of the mucus.
25. Decongesting balm for essential oils
Thanks to the recipe proposed by Mighty Nest you will prepare a decongestant balm for the respiratory tract to be massaged on your chest. For the preparation of this natural remedy you will need 60 ml of coconut oil, 2 teaspoons of beeswax or shea butter, 20 drops of essential oil of peppermint or lavender, 15 drops of essential oil of eucalyptus, 15 drops of essential rosemary oil.
Heat and melt the coconut oil and beeswax into the bain-marie, which you can replace with the shea butter. Turn off the flame, combine essential oils and stir. Pour everything into a glass jar and allow to cool. Cooling, pure coconut oil will solidify and form an easy to apply balm. If the coconut oil is already solid before starting the preparation, place the vial or jar in it in a bowl of hot water so that you can pour it easily into the pan and measure the amount indicated. This decongestant balm is safely stored in the fridge. Add to the preparation a few drops of vitamin E can facilitate retention.