Whether you’re struggling from winter allergies or a cold, no one wants to deal with an uncomfortable, stuffy nose. Luckily, these natural fixes can keep you breathing easy.
In the morning, swap your nasal spray.
OTC nasal sprays offer fast relief, but within five days of regular use, many can trigger “rebound congestion.” This means you have to use more to get any effect at all.
“Decongestant sprays constrict little vessels in the nose, offering temporary relief,” says Yelena Kopyltsova, M.D., of ENT and Allergy Associates in Astoria, New York. “But as the medication wears off, the vessels relax and dilate, and your nose ends up even more congested.”
The fix? Choose a natural blend spray that has only salt, water and baking soda. University of Wisconsin research shows it reduces congestion by 64 percent — on par with drug-based sprays.
During the day, press your tongue.
Try this: Firmly press the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, then release. Now press a finger firmly between your eyebrows. Repeat this tongue-press and brow-tap motion for 20 seconds, and your sinuses will be magically clear.
That’s because the motion manipulates the vomer bone inside your nasal cavity, triggering it to clear blocked sinuses, says Dr. Kopyltsova.
Tip: After you’ve cleared your sinuses, breathe slower, deeper breaths through your nose instead of your mouth. Nose-breathing taps into an ancient survival mechanism that alerts the brain it needs to keep sinuses clear, preventing them from stuffing up again.
Before bed, add some honey to your tea.
Oxford scientists say a spoonful of honey is a better congestion remedy than doctor-recommended treatments, such as OTC meds, antibiotics, and prescription prednisone. The researchers credit honey’s antimicrobial properties, which can begin easing stuffy nose symptoms within a half hour.
Tip: Stir 1 Tbs. of honey into a cup of rosemary tea before bed. The anti-inflammatory herb reduces inflammation that worsens stuffiness.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.