My Top 5 Ways of Dealing With a Stuffy Nose
Last updated: April 2023
As with most chronic conditions, allergies are not a one-size-fits-all thing. While we share a lot of symptoms that we deal with, no 2 people have the same experience. I have reactions to a lot of different environmental allergens. For me, the most prevalent symptom I deal with is a stuffy nose. I don't remember a time when I didn't have to keep a pack of tissues on me.
If I go to someone's house and they have pets, I can forget about breathing through my nose while I'm there. Even when I'm not exposed to animal dander or other allergens, I still deal with congestion often. These are some of the methods that I do to alleviate a stuffy nose.
Using a steam inhaler
A steam inhaler is a device that turns water into warm steam meant to inhale through the mask portion of the device. After a while, the mucus in your nose starts to break up due inhaling the steam, and breathing can get a bit easier. This is by no means a permanent fix to a stuffy nose caused by allergies, but I have found a steam inhaler to be helpful with congestion relief.
The devices range in cost from about $50-$100. If you don't want to buy one or can't afford it, boiling water in a bowl can do the trick! Just put your face over the bowl and put a towel over your head so the steam doesn't escape, and inhale through your nose until you feel some relief.
Halotherapy or salt therapy
Halotherapy is an alternative medicine treatment involving breathing in salted air. There are spas you can go to that have a "salt cave" where you can experience this kind of treatment.
I have done halotherapy about 5 or 6 times, and it clears my sinuses right out every single time. The only downside to this remedy is that it can be costly to do it regularly. I encourage anyone with a salt cave nearby to try it out at least once, as it is a very relaxing experience.
Using a menthol nasal inhaler
Many swear by menthol ointments and products for all kinds of ailments and symptoms. The menthol inhalers are convenient because they are about the size of chapstick, won't cause the sticky discomfort of using ointment or cream, and can be used for a while before the menthol gets used up. I'm not a fan of the smell of menthol, but many people in my family swear by it. If I need congestion relief on the go, I suck it up and use it.
Nasal irrigation device for mucus removal
Nasal irrigation is similar to the steam inhaler in that it uses warm water to remove the mucus from your nose and sinuses. The only difference is that the water isn't boiling, and instead of inhaling steam, you are squeezing the water through your nasal and sinus cavities to get the mucus out.
This is usually done with a special bottle that you squeeze or an electronic device that flushes water through your nasal passages and sinuses. It can be uncomfortable, but seeing all the mucus come out is definitely satisfying.
Medicines that can relieve congestion
For me, medicines are the "big guns" that I bring out when nothing else works, and I'm still feeling miserable. While this isn't everybody's approach, I try to see what non-pharmaceutical options I have before taking medication.
My medication experiences
When I have to use an antihistamine, I tend to choose Benadryl. Daily allergy medicines like Allegra, Zyrtec, or Claritin don't do much for immediate relief. Usually, when I take Benadryl, I feel the effects pretty quickly and get some relief, but there are side effects, such as drowsiness when taking Benadryl.
Consult your doctor before taking medication
All of these methods to relieve congestion have pros and cons. And some may not work for everyone. Please consult with your doctor or allergist before trying any medicines.
The steam inhaler is one of my personal favorite treatments for a stuffy nose, but if I'm not at home and can't use it, I either opt for the menthol inhaler or take an antihistamine. Unfortunately, none of these are cures, but they make breathing with allergies a bit easier.
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