Nasal congestion, a common symptom of the common cold, often causes annoyance and discomfort. Congestion happens because of inflammation of the tissues lining the inside of your nose – not because of the goopy, thick mucus.
Vaporize congestion: Some research has shown that cold viruses seem to spread more easily in dry air. Hook up a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer and feel the relief a bit of moisture can provide. Try adding a couple of drops of oil of peppermint or oil of eucalyptus to the water tank. If you have neither humidifier nor vaporizer, create a comparable effect by placing a shallow pan of water in the center of the room and letting evaporation take its course. To get more a direct "humidifier effect," take a steamy shower.
Flush out congestion: When you're "stuffed up" – the tissues lining your nasal passage are inflamed, your nose feels so congested, and breathing has become a challenge – it can be tempting to duck your head under the faucet and let the water run. Instead of resorting to that, try using a saline nasal spray or doing some nasal "irrigation" using a neti pot or nasal syringe.
Blow out congestion – the right way: You'd think blowing your nose would be an easy thing, right? But the tissue issue is more complicated than you might think!
First of all, are you even doing it right? Some research shows that blowing too hard may cause very high pressure in your nose and may push the cold virus back into your sinuses. The effects of this are not clear, but researchers advise to blow gently. Press one nostril shut while you gently blow out through the other.
Another issue is the skin irritation from too much rubbing. Decrease friction by adding a dollop of gentle lotion to your tissue before using, or else buy the type pre-treated with moisturizer. And don’t forget to throw the tissue out immediately after using it to prevent the spread of the cold virus.
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