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  • Writer's pictureStefan Kuipers

How to Clear Nasal Congestion?

Getting relief from nasal congestion is a top priority for many patients in my ear, nose, and throat (ENT) clinic. Nasal congestion is terribly irritating and annoying. Patients want relief and it can be difficult to get. Let me walk you through some of the basics to help get you started.


Lifestyle Changes

Before even going to the pharmacy to buy a product or medication, there are steps you can take at home to help you beat nasal congestion. They aren't the most effective, but they are easy, natural, and not costly. These steps include getting plenty of rest, exercising, staying hydrating, using a humidifier, taking a hot shower, and even sleeping with the head of your bed elevated.

Nasal Saline Rinses

This is an easy step that many people overlook, but it can be very effective. Rinsing, flushing or spraying your nose with saline is a good way to clean your nose from allergens, dust, and other irritants. It's like giving the inside of your nose a bath. It can help reduce mucus build up and reduce tissue swelling.

Nasal Strips

Nasal strips are an easy way to clear nasal congestion because they open up your nasal valve. They are safe, easy, cheap, and can work very well. Many people wear nasal strips at night to help their nasal breathing while they sleep. It's possible to wear nasal strips during the day as well, but most people decide not to given the fashion statement they'd be making.


Nasal Sprays

There are many nasal sprays available at your local pharmacy that can help with nasal blockage, but be careful, it's not all roses. Nasal steroid sprays are safe, over-the-counter, and contain active medications that help stop allergies and open up your nose. Nasal decongestant sprays can be very helpful at opening up your nasal passages, but they can be very addicting! You certainly wouldn't want to use a nasal decongestant spray for more than just a few days.


At the pharmacy, there are probably 30+ different ways to buy an antihistamine. There are pills, sprays, liquids, and others. At their basic level, all antihistamines help stop allergic inflammation and nasal drainage which can then help with nasal congestion. However, for the most part, these medications are not great at reducing swelling inside your nose. They actually work better for sneezing, itching, or a runny nose.


Okay, these bad boys work. I mean they work, work. If you're in a pinch, a single tablet of either an over-the-counter or behind-the counter oral decongestant pill can really help clear up your nose. Many of my patients use these only sparingly or when they are feeling extra congested. However, as good as these medications are at clearing up your nose, they carry side effects such as heart racing, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, and others. Be sure to check with your doctor before you take any.


Simple Procedures

If at-home treatments and medications aren't enough, then you will likely need the services of a medical professional, and potentially, the services of an ENT physician. These professionals can perform simple in-office procedures to either widen your nasal valve or reduce the size of the air-filters inside your nose. Both of these help you clear nasal congestion.

Nasal Surgery

And, if nothing else works, you could always consider nasal surgery. ENT physicians specialize in procedures that straighten your septum, take out nasal masses, or simply reduce the swelling inside your nose.

At the least, if you are still one of the millions of Americans that continue to struggle with nasal congestion on a regular basis, then know that there are options to help. Sometimes it's as easy as a simple at-home treatment and for others, it may mean a visit to your doctor.

To better breathing,

Stefan PA

Vivaer West Michigan

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