Whether it's a cold, the flu, or allergies that are causing your trouble, you've got plenty of choices to help clear your stuffed-up nose.
Check with your doctor before you take any over-the-counter drugs if you have medical problems or take other medicines.
Decongestants. You can get them as pills or sprays. They shrink the blood vessels inside your nose. This opens up your nasal passages, so air can flow easier through them.
Decongestant sprays work directly on the blood vessels in your nose. You shouldn't use them for more than 3 days, because your body may start to rely on them. If this happens, you'll feel even stuffier when you stop using them.
Decongestants can raise your heart rate and blood pressure. This means people with medical conditions including high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, glaucoma, or trouble peeing shouldn't use them.
Steroid nasal sprays. If allergies are causing your stuffy nose, ask your doctor if you should use ones that you can buy without a prescription. They can bring down swelling and improve congestion, and have few side effects. They can take a couple of days to kick in, so start them before you have symptoms and use them throughout your allergy season. They won't help with colds or the flu.
Antihistamines. You may need this type of medicine if your nose is stuffy because of allergies. Histamines are chemicals in your body that cause allergic symptoms, including a stuffy nose. Antihistamines help prevent allergic reactions by blocking these chemicals.
Some of these meds can make you sleepy, so read the label. They work best if you take them before your allergies begin, but they can work after the fact, too.
Menthol. Medicated ointments that have this or camphor in them can help you breathe better. You can rub them on your chest or upper lip. You can also buy types that you place in warm water and breathe in the vapor, which helps open up your airways.
Steam. Stand in a warm shower and take deep breaths. This good old-fashioned method may do the trick to ease your stuffiness.