11 Feb How to Deal with a Stuffy Nose, Part Two: Nighttime Tactics
A stuffy nose can ruin your day and your night … but it doesn’t have to.
We have 25 tips on how to combat a stuffy nose, both at night — when clogged nostrils can disrupt the sleep your body needs to recover — and during the day. In Part Two, we’ll tackle the nighttime issues. (If you missed Part One, we’ve got you covered!)
What to do during the evening
These time-tested remedies can help you relieve congestion and wind down for the night.
11 Eat chicken noodle soup
Your grandmother’s cold remedy might have something to it. Research suggests that chicken soup may have medicinal benefits, including a mild anti-inflammatory effect.
While the results aren’t conclusive, chicken soup doescontain important nutrients and improves hydration. In other words, having a bowl of chicken soup in the evening can’t hurt.
12 Drink hot tea
Tea has antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. While there isn’t any evidence that tea clears up nasal stuffiness, research has shown that hot drinks can improve how people feel about their cold symptoms.
Adding honey or lemon to your tea may provide additional relief. Honey may soothe a cough, while lemon may help fight infections. In the evening, opt for a caffeine-free tea.
13 Gargle with salt water
Doctors recommend gargling with salt water to relieve throat pain. Although it’s not a cure, it can help flush out a virus.
Saltwater gargling is inexpensive and easy to do. Simply mix 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water and gargle as needed.
14 Try a facial steam
Steam loosens the mucus in your nasal passages, improving congestion. The easiest way to make your own facial steam is to run hot water in your kitchen or bathroom.
To do this, fill your sink with warm water. Place a towel over your head (to trap the vapor) and lean over the sink. As the steam builds, inhale deeply. Take care not to scald your face on the water or steam.
15 Or take a hot shower
Hot showers may also provide temporary relief from congestion by thinning out mucus. Turn your shower to a hot — but still comfortable — temperature.
Make sure to close the door to your bathroom so steam can gather. Once steam has collected, take a few deep breaths to clear up your sinuses.
16 Use a saline rinse
There is evidence that saline (saltwater) rinses, sometimes known as nasal irrigation, can improve congestion and related symptoms.
A neti pot is a small container used with a saltwater solution to rinse mucus from the nose and sinuses. Other saline rinses use bulb syringes, squeeze bottles, or battery-operated devices that pulse water through the nose.
When doing a saline rinse, it’s important to only use distilled water. You can also boil water and allow it to cool to room temperature. Always follow the instructions provided.
17 Use a corticosteroid nasal spray
Corticosteroids are a type of drug that reduces inflammation. Corticosteroid nasal sprays (also called intranasal corticosteroid sprays) are used to treat inflammation-related congestion, runny nose, and sneezing.
They’re among some of the most effective medications for nasal symptoms, with mild side effects that can include dryness and nosebleeds. They’re available over the counter.
What to do right before bed
Before bed, take steps to promote relaxation and make your sleeping environment more comfortable. Medication, nasal strips, and chest rubs can help with your symptoms.
18 Take an antihistamine
Histamine is a hormone that plays a critical role in allergic reactions. Antihistamines block the effects of histamine, offering relief from sneezing, congestion, and other allergy symptoms.
Most drug stores sell antihistamines. Drowsiness is a common side effect of certain types of antihistamines, so these are best taken before rest times. If you’re concerned about side effects, speak to your pharmacist.
19 Diffuse an essential oil in your bedroom
Essential oils might help improve sinus congestion, but there aren’t enough reliable studies to know for sure.
A review found that tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which suggests it might help with nasal congestion.
Another study investigated the effects of a primary component in eucalyptus oil, called “1,8-cineole.” Taking cineole in capsule form was found to improve sinus symptoms.
Peppermint oil contains menthol, which can make you feel like it’s easier to breathe.
You can use a diffuser to disperse essential oils in your bedroom.
20 Use a humidifier in your bedroom
Humidifiers add moisture (and some also add heat) to the air. Although they haven’t shown consistent benefits in treating cold symptoms, they can make it feel easier to breathe.
Dry air can irritate the throat and nasal passages. If the air in your bedroom is too dry, a humidifier can help. You’ll need to clean it regularly to avoid bacteria and mold growth.
21 Keep your bedroom cool and dark
When you’re sick, small things can keep you from getting much-needed sleep. For example, you might feel more sensitive to fluctuations in light or temperature.
Keep the temperature in your bedroom cool and opt for light covers. Use blackout curtains to ensure outside light doesn’t affect your sleep.
22 Apply a nasal strip
Nasal strips help to open the nasal passages to improve breathing. They may also improve breathing when the nose is blocked due to congestion.
You can buy nasal strips at most pharmacies. Follow the instructions on the package to apply the nasal strip to your nose at bedtime.
23 Apply an essential oil chest rub
Essential oils are thought to help improve cold symptoms and promote sleep. Although there isn’t much research on their effectiveness, they’re generally safe.
You can use essential oils to make your own chest rub. Eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree oil are a few examples of essential oils believed to have cold-fighting properties. Make sure you dilute your essential oil mix with a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation.
24 Apply a menthol chest rub
Over-the-counter chest or vapor rubs are applied to the neck and chest. They often contain menthol, camphor, and/or eucalyptus oil. Chest rubs don’t cure nasal symptoms, but they can improve your sleep.
25 Prop up your head so you remain elevated
Sleeping with your head elevated can help drain mucus and relieve sinus pressure. Lay on your back and use an extra pillow to prop up your head.
When to see your doctor
A stuffy nose typically isn’t cause for alarm. It’s usually caused by seasonal allergies or temporary bouts of the common cold, flu, and sinusitis.
Although most people can treat a stuffy nose at home, certain groups should see their doctor for diagnosis. This includes:
- adults age 65 and older
- people who have a compromised immune system
Even if you’re not in one of these groups, you should see your doctor if your symptoms last for more than a week or get progressively worse.
You should also see your doctor if you experience:
- difficulty breathing
- a high fever
- yellow or green nasal discharge with sinus pain or fever
- bloody or pus-like nasal discharge
We hope these 25 tips helped! Stay tuned for more common-cold-related posts this month!