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Nasal congestion and sinus pressure have many causes: colds, flu, allergies, to name a few. Whatever’s triggering them, the symptoms can be a pain -- literally.

These tips may help make congestion and sinus pressure a bit more bearable -- and help you breathe a little easier.

Nasal Congestion and Sinus Pressure: Home Treatments

What’s actually causing that stuffed up feeling? When you’ve got a cold or allergies, the membranes lining your nasal passages become inflamed and irritated. They begin to produce excess mucus as a way of flushing out whatever is causing the irritation, such as an allergen.

When you’re stuffed up, you need to focus on keeping your nasal passages and sinuses moist. Although people sometimes think that dry air might help clear up a relentlessly runny nose, it actually has the opposite effect. Drying out the membranes will irritate them further.

So to keep your nasal passages moist, you can:

  • Use a humidifier or vaporizer.
  • Take long showers or -- very carefully -- breathe in steam from a pot on the stove. 
  • Drink lots of fluids, which will thin out your mucus and may help prevent your sinuses from getting blocked up. 
  • Use a nasal saline spray – simple unmedicated salt water – to help prevent your nasal passages from drying out. 

To further ease your nasal congestion and sinus pressure, here are some other things you can try at home.

  • Irrigate. It may seem odd, but the time-honored technique of flushing out nasal passages with salt water has some good scientific evidence behind it. The water washes out mucus and other debris – including allergens or germs – while keeping your nasal passages moist. There are many different approaches. You could just use a syringe, a neti pot, or one of the more elaborate and expensive nasal irrigators available in stores. Use distilled, sterile or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution. It’s also important to rinse the irrigation device after each use and leave open to air dry.
  • Use warm compresses on your face. Sitting with a warm, wet towel on your face may relieve discomfort and open your nasal passages.
  • Prop yourself up. At night, lie on a couple of pillows. Keeping your head elevated may make breathing more comfortable. 
  • Avoid chlorinated pools. Although you might think the moisture will help, the chlorine in pools can irritate the mucous membranes in your nasal passages.

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