Nasal Congestion

Call it what you will — nasal congestion, sinus congestion, a stuffy nose, stuck boogers, bats in the cave, or what-have-you — you must be a feeling pretty miserable right now. Sinus congestion can mean boogers pouring out of your nose in the front and severe sinus blockage in the back. Whenever my nose is stuffy, I end up sleeping on my face and waking up gasping and drooling on myself in the morning. Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to have to use a Q-tip and my fingernails to get crusted snot off of my nose ring.

There are many causes of a stuffy nose, and it’s often best to treat the cause and not simply the symptom. Things such as hay fever, cat or dog allergies, a common cold, flu, a sinus infection, sinusitis, sinus irritation and smoking can cause a stuffy nose. Often it’s easy enough to tell what’s causing the problem. Once that’s gone, it’s easy enough to temporarily treat the symptoms and offer yourself that double dose of relief. After all, breathing is important.

Ways to Help Get Rid of a Stuffy Nose

  • Wash your bedding to get rid of allergens.
  • Clean your curtains: mega allergens there.
  • See an allergist.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid OTC sinus sprays; they can make it worse.
  • Use a humidifier.
  • Use a hot compress over your sinuses.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Quit smoking.
  • And quit smoking

Best Ways to Get Rid of Sinus Congestion

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated will help naturally relieve nasal congestion. There’s no doubt that water fixes almost everything. It makes up the vast majority of each of our cells, and so the vast majority of the human body. Keeping enough fluid pumping through us can help with everything from losing weight to fighting disease, lethargy and even depression. So when you have a stuffy nose, the most natural way to get rid of that congestion is to put a little extra fluid in your body. Water is great, but you can also try natural fruit juice, commercial products such as Pedialyte or Gatorade, or green tea (we’re fans of Tazo Green tea, you can get it at Amazon) with a bit of honey. Your body wants you to breathe from your nose, so it’ll fight the fight for you as long as it has the fluid to do it with.

Take a decongestant

Use an OTC decongestant to get rid of nasal congestion.This is the quickest, though not necessarily the surest, way to get rid of a stuffy nose. Many over-the-counter drugs can get rid of a stuffy nose to one degree or another. Whenever you’re poking through the medicines at the local Walgreens at two in the morning, look for the term “decongestant.” Sudafed or Claritin-D is probably your best bet, though they will be (depending on your state) locked away behind the counter. In lieu of those, look for medicines that are simply decongestants and are made only for decongesting. Chances are that those medicines will have a more effective dose to help you get rid of your stuffy nose.

Take an antihistamine

Antihistamines can help relieve sinus congestion.Antihistamines are fairly cheap and are easy enough to come by. Whatever it is you’re allergic to, be it grass, pollen, flowers, mold, or cats, an antihistamine will help get rid of allergy symptoms. In some situations, it’s difficult or impossible to get rid of the allergen making you miserable, i.e., you can’t ask your neighbor to burn their lawn into the dirt because you have a stuffy nose. And I would never recommend the shaving of a feline (which wouldn’t help anyways). So if you can’t get rid of the cat or the grass, then keep a steady supply of OTC or even prescription antihistamines on hand to combat the sinus congestion symptoms.

Take an anti-inflammatory drug

Take an anti-inflammatory drug to help get rid of nasal congestion. With all that crud sifting around your sinuses, it’s no wonder that they become irritated and inflamed. Whether it’s sinus congestion due to sinus infection, a common cold, flu, allergies, or simply blowing your nose like a Brahma bull, your sinus tissue may be inflamed. Taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug can help to reduce the swelling, tenderness and pain of inflamed sinus tissue. A common anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen is cheap, easy to find, and can get rid of the pain and help unclog congested sinuses. Of course, it’s only temporary relief and doesn’t treat any underlying medical problems, but there’s nothing wrong with a little temporary relief.

See your doctor

See your doctor to help get rid of sinus congestion. Yes, it’s a wild idea to go see your doctor to help you with your stuffy nose. But doctors, as usual, have access to a wide array of prescription decongestants, antihistamines and many other drugs to help treat the symptoms of your nasal congestion. Even better yet, your doctor could probably not only figure out what’s causing your nasal congestion, such as allergies or sinusitis, but may also be able to treat that underlying causes instead of just the symptoms. If your doctor can treat what causes sinus congestion, your symptoms can be gone in hours.

Signs You Should See a Doctor

  • High or prolonged fever
  • Alterations in vision
  • Swelling of the face or nose
  • Neon-colored mucus in your nose or throat
  • White spots on your throat or tonsils
  • Rash
  • Cough lasting more than seven days
  • Difficulty breathing

OTC Nasal Congestion Treatments


Once you’ve handed your state-issued identification card to the pharmacist, offered them your thumbprint and perhaps even some of your DNA, you can purchase your Sudafed and go home for your instant sinus congestion relief. Those teensy red tablets actually do have a purpose beyond the creation of illegal drugs that make your teeth fall out: Sudafed is one of the most powerful and effective OTC decongestants on the market. Follow the package directions, and you’ll soon be breathing from not one but both nostrils.


The “D” stands for decongestant. Combine the decongestant with Claritin’s antihistamines, and you are set up for double the relief against allergy-induced stuffy noses. Claritin-D can be purchased over the counter, though you may still need to sign forms promising not to make drugs with it. But it’s readily available for when you have to go to that work picnic or visit your Great Aunt Florence and her seventeen cats.

Neilmed Sinus Rinse

Yes, it’s just like squirting warm water into your sinuses and letting all the goo flow out of your nose and mouth. In a weird way, it feels really good. The patented squirter is designed specifically for your nose, and the saline that you mix up is surprisingly soothing. It rinses out the sinus cavities, so long as they aren’t completely blocked, allowing medicines to access the area better, as well as removing mucus and the foreign bodies trapped there. You can find it in a starter kit on Amazon, or in packages of tablets.

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About the Author

Erin Eliason

Erin Eliason