How to Sleep With a Stuffy Nose
How To Get Rid Of A Stuffy Nose Fast
Getting a stuffy nose isn’t just a cold weather thing. During all four seasons, allergens, bacteria, and viruses can inflame the blood vessels in the nose, leaving the nasal passages swollen and obstructed, explains, MD, an internist at NewYork-Presbyterian.
Plenty of over-the-counter medications and natural remedies can help you breathe freely again. But, before you reach for your old standbys, take a second to consider your symptoms, advises Dr. Tung. If mucus is drip, drip, dripping away, like a sink that won’t stop running, you need something that will turn down (or turn off) that dripping faucet, she says. But if your nose is thoroughly clogged, you’ll need something with Drano-like power to clear your nasal passageway. Breathe easy with the best solutions both set of symptoms.
If you have a runny nose...
Try an antihistamine
A runny nose accompanied by itchy eyes is almost always indicates allergies, which typically respond well to antihistamines, says Kristine Arthur, MD, an internist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.
Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of histamine, the chemical the body makes to protect itself from allergens. When histamine is released, it binds to cells in the throat and nose, causing them to swell and leak fluid. This results in a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes.
Antihistamines come in two variants: sedative and non-sedative. Sedating options are most powerful, says Dr. Tung. She typically recommends that her patients take Benadryl (diphenhydramine) at bedtime to stop that faucet-running sensation. During the day, when sleepiness isn’t an option, allergy sufferers can turn to other, less sedating antihistamines: Claritin (loratadine), Allegra (fexofenadine), and Zyrtec (Cetirizine), which are all available over the counter. Claritin is the least powerful—but also least sedating—while Zyrtec is more effective, but might cause a bit of drowsiness, Dr. Tung says.
If you have symptoms for more than a week, see your doctor. It's possible you have a sinus infection and may need prescription medication.
⚠️Some medication interactions may cause dangerous side effects ⚠️
Always check with a doctor or pharmacist before using more than two over-the-counter allergy medications, or mixing an allergy medication with prescription medication.
Consider nasal irrigation or a nasal spray
If oral medication isn’t cutting it, nasal irrigation or a nasal spray are definitely worth a shot. Over-the-counter nasal steroid spray like Flonase can help relieve a runny nose and sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes by reducing swelling in the nose, which can lead to classic allergy symptoms, including a runny nose.
and , on the other hand, help break up and remove mucus in the nasal passages using a saltwater solution, Dr. Tung explains. This technique can also help flush out debris, allergens, and air pollutants that could be causing your symptoms.
Clean your home with a HEPA vacuum
While keeping a super clean home may seem like a great way to get your allergies under control, if you’re cleaning your house with a standard vacuum you’re likely kicking all the allergens you’re trying to suction. Only vacuums with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters catch the super tiny particles that make your nose runny and your eyes itchy. Pick up one of these best HEPA vacuums for allergy sufferers to keep pesky pollen and other agitating debris out of your home and out of your nose.
If your nose is totally clogged...
Pop a decongestant
Completely stuffed up and congested? You may have a sinus infection, common cold, or allergies.
If you think you have a cold, a pseudoephedrine-based product like Sudafed may be a good solution (you don't need a prescription for it, but you do need to ask a pharmacist for it). If you think allergies or a sinus infection are to blame, an antihistamine/decongestant combination like such as Claritin-D, Allegra-D, or Zyrtec-D can help improve your symptoms (the "D" stands for decongestant).
“A decongestant is a powerful nasal constrictor that crunches down on those blood vessels, effectively decreasing the flow of blood and secretions into the area, which gives the body a chance to decongest,” Dr. Tung explains.
If your symptoms last more than a week, check in with your doctor. You could have an infection that requires prescription medication.
⚠️Check with your doctor before taking pseudoephedrine⚠️
Pseudoephedrine can raise blood pressure and cause abnormal heart rhythms. If you have a history of cardiovascular health issues, check with your doctor before taking the medication.
Try a decongestant nasal spray
While Flonase is an allergy relief nasal spray, similar looking products like Afrin or (oxymetazoline) are better equipped to treat nasal congestion brought on by the common cold and other causes. But use these products cautiously. While they may clear out your stuffy nose at first, using the medication for more than three days can cause the blood vessels to clamp down, leaving you more congested, Dr. Tung cautions.
Be it ever so humble, a hot shower can work wonders on a clogged nose. For best results, Follow Dr. Tung’s step-by-step instructions:
- Turn the shower on blazing hot, and let the water run until the bathroom stall is full of fog and steam.
- Lower the temperature—so you won’t get scalded—and get in the shower for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Keep your face below the showerhead so you can breathe in the steam, which will loosen up the mucus.
- Toward the end of your shower, hack, spit, sneeze, and cough to get all the mucus and phlegm out of your system.
“Usually you’ll feel almost back to normal for a couple of hours [afterward],” Dr. Tung says. It’s not a permanent solution—the mucus will build up again—but for a precious period, you’ll be able to breathe clear, and step away from the tissues.
Can’t take a steamy hot shower every few hours? Apply a washcloth over your face or run a humidifier (like one of these top-rated picks) or can help get the mucus out.
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