How to cure nasal congestion

Relieving a stuffed-up nose

The common cold is the usual cause of nasal congestion, a condition characterized by swollen and irritated nasal passages and constant production of thick mucus. If the cold is associated with fever, pain along the sinuses, and a yellow-green discharge; see your doctor.

There is no quick cure for a stuffed-up nose-any more than there is for a cold-but there are a number of things you can do to ease the discomfort. Blowing your nose is obvious. Press one nostril closed, and firmly but gently blow through the other one to clear it. Don’t blow too hard; you can damage your eardrum.

One of the most effective ways to ease congestion is to breathe moist air. Humidify the air with either a cold-steam vaporizer, which sprays out tiny droplets of water, or an old-style hot-steam vaporizer. Place a hot-steam vaporizer in a stable position where no one will trip over it or touch it; it could cause a burn. Another way to loosen mucus is to fill a sink or basin with hot water, drape a towel over your head, and inhale the vapors.

Using a nasal syringe, you can clear the nasal passages of a child. Hold the child on your lap with his head back, and put a fewdrops of warm, salty water in one of his nostrils with a dropper. Wait a few minutes for the mucus to soften, suck it out with the syringe, then do the other nostril the same way.

Nasal decongestants work by drying and shrinking mucus-producing tissues. Go easy on their use; they may damage nasal tissue if used too often for too long a period of time. In addition, there may be a rebound effect resulting in the production of more mucus rather than less. As a rule of thumb, limit usage to 3 days. And don’t use decongestants at all for young children without first consulting a physician.