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7 Home Remedies to Clear Congestion

Updated: Dec 21, 2018

Congestion sucks. It is an inevitable side effect of the cold, flu, or allergies, but luckily it is also easy to combat.

Nasal vs. Sinus Congestion

Nasal congestion is the result of irritated, inflamed, and swollen nasal passages which make it difficult to breath. It may feel like your noses is full of excess mucous, however the culprit is the irritation. Mucous is however, the primary cause of sinus congestion, which occurs when the mucous membranes become irritated and start to excrete an excess of thick mucus.

Common irritants that lead to the excessive production of mucous, and the irritation of your nasal passage and mucous membranes include:

Bacterial infection Viral infection - Most commonly cold or flu


Hay Fever

Upper respiratory infections including asthma Nasal polyps

Environmental irritants

Sinus Infection A sinus infection A head injury Excessive use of decongestant nasal sprays

An excess of mucous can also cause sore throats, coughing, and ear infection, and worsen the symptoms of upper respiratory conditions like asthma or bronchitis. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consult with an ENT specialist.

Congestion can be addressed at home, and often times with great results. Here are some of our favorite go-to methods for clearing congestion at home:

1. Hot Shower + In-Shower Vapor Disks

The moisture and warm temperatures in your shower can help clear your nasal passages and relieve congestion. We also recommend boosting the effectiveness of your steamy shower by adding DIY vapor disks. The essential oils from menthol or eucalyptus will help clear phlegm and also trick your brain into thinking you are breathing clearly.

Professional Voice Blog - DIY Vapor Rub Shower Disks with Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Lemon

DIY EUCALYPTUS | PEPPERMINT | LEMON SHOWER VAPOR DISKS 1 1/4 Cup baking soda 1/2 Cup warm water Muffin tin Cupcake liners 12 Drops Eucalyptus Oil 12 Drops Peppermint Oil 8 Drops Lemon *Lemon essential oil will help rejuvenate your body and is also a immune booster Mix the ingredients together in a bowl until the mixture has the consistency of a spreadable paste and pour into the muffin tins (you may not need to use all the water, so add it in gradually while stirring the mixture). Let the mixture sit in the muffin tins overnight or until hardened. Place one of the disks on the floor of your shower and let the vapor do the work! Keep the disks stored in an air-tight container and away from moisture. 2. Humidifier Moisture from a humidifier can help to thin the excess mucous in your system, and also help combat dehydration brought on by your cold. Place a humidifier in your room at night to help keep your airways hydrated at night, as breathing through the mouth will only worsen the symptoms.

3. Hot Liquids

Hot liquids can help loosen secretions in the chest and sinuses, but the trick it plays on your brain is even better. There is no real scientific proof that hot liquids clear congestion...but there is evidence to prove that the placebo effect of hot liquids can actually help improve your condition.

Researchers at the Common Cold Center at Cardiff University in Britain studied the effects of hot liquids on 30 subjects all suffering from the symptoms of the common cold or flu.

典he hot drink provided immediate and sustained relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness and tiredness...Whereas the same drink at room temperature only provided relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough and sneezing.

The results of the study demonstrated that hot beverages had no measurable effect on actual nasal airflow but it did result in a significant improvement on the subjective measures of nasal airflow - essentially a great trick on the brain. The study found that hot drinks provided immediate and sustained relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness and tiredness, while the same drink consumed at room temperature only provided relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough and sneezing.

The placebo effects of hot beverages to clear congestion.

So while drinking a hot cup of tea will not yield actual results, the feeling of relief can be just as effective as a physical drink up!

4. The Neti Pot

Pouring liquid directly into your nose may seem like one of the most bizarre treatments around, but there is a reason behind the madness. The irrigation of the nasal passage is a practice put to use for centuries by Ayurvedic practitioners, and continues to be one of the best natural treatments for nasal and sinus relief. When using a Neti pot, mix a simple solution of warm water and salt, fill the pot, tip your head to the side (over a sink) and pour the liquid directly into your nostril. The saline solution will flow through your nasal passage and come directly out the other nostril. Repeat on the other side.

The combination of salt and water will help clear your nasal and sinus congestion by first hydrated the nasal passage and also helping to clear the passage of excess mucous and irritants (allergens and germs).

The best essential oils for mucous congestion: eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme, tea tree, cedarwood, clove, ginger, peppermint

5. Essential Oils

Essential oils, particularly menthol and eucalyptus oil, are some of nature's most effective natural congestion remedies. Menthol, a derivative of peppermint oil, is the most common herbal oil used in over-the-counter balms and rubs. Menthol does not actually relieve congestion, but it is an effective remedy because the aroma from the oil stimulates nerve receptors in the nose that trick your brain into thinking more air is flowing through your nasal passage.

Keep your face about an arm's length away from the steam when trying this remedy. If you do not smell the aroma from the Eucalyptus, add in a couple more drops.

Eucalyptus oil, however has more substantial applications for helping clear congestion. Research has found eucalyptus helps loosen phlegm, which in turn, helps to relieve congestion. The best way to use eucalyptus oil is to breath in the vapor. Simply boil a pot of hot water on the stove and add three-to-five drops of eucalyptus oil to the pot. Once a steady steam is coming off the boiling water, remove it from the stove and pour into a bowl. Place a towel over your head to trap the steam, lean over the bowl, and breath in the vapor. Keep your face far enough away from the steam to avoid steam-burn. Basically, if your face feels like it is getting burnt...back it off.

6. Warm Compress

Putting a warm compress on your face (specifically across your nose) can help open up the nasal passages and give your sinuses relief. A towel soaked with hot water (not too hot to harm your skin or cause discomfort) can be used as a warm compress.

7. Saline Spray

Not to be confused with decongestant sprays, an over-the-counter nasal saline spray can be an effective way to clear congestion in your nasal passage by keeping the passage hydrated and fighting germs. Using a saline spray can be preferable over decongestant nasal sprays, which can sometimes cause "rebound congestion". Decongestive nasal sprays can also become addictive and not only cause congestion with overuse, but serious harm to your nasal passage. The recommended duration for use of a medicated or decongestent nasal spray is three days.

Saline helps to combat congestion by reducing the thick secretions in the nose and sinuses. The saline spray also helps to remove irritants and germs in the nasal passage and sinuses.

According to Amber Luong, MD, PhD, assistant professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, "If your nose is too dry and mucus isn't flowing, your sinuses can get backed up and that can lead to a sinus infection. That is why over-the-counter nose spray can be an important part of sinusitis treatment...A saline nose spray acts like a humidifier to keep sinus mucus moving. It can help wash away allergens and germs before they cause inflammation. And unlike decongestant nasal spray, there is no danger of addiction, so it痴 safe to use. In fact, you can safely use a saline nose spray up to six times per day.

Before using any treatment for nasal or sinus congestion, consult a physician.

If you have questions or want to speak with an ENT specialist, contact the Colorado Voice Clinic.



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