Finding ways to keep mucus thin will help it drain from your nose and sinuses and relieve your symptoms. Drinking plenty of clear fluids is one way to do this. You can also:
Apply a warm, moist washcloth to your face several times a day.
Inhale steam 2 to 4 times a day. One way to do this is to sit in the bathroom with the shower running. DO NOT inhale hot steam.
Use a vaporizer or humidifier.
A nasal wash can help remove mucus from your nose.
You can buy a saline spray at a drugstore or make one at home. To make one, use 1 cup of warm water, 1/2 a teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of baking soda.
Use gentle saline nasal sprays 3 to 4 times per day.
Congestion is often worse when lying down. Keep upright, or at least keep the head elevated.
Some stores sell adhesive strips that can be placed on the nose. These help widen the nostrils, making breathing easier.
Medicines you can buy at the store without a prescription can help your symptoms.
Decongestants are medicines that shrink and dry up your nasal passages. They may help dry up a runny or stuffy nose.
Antihistamines are medicines that treat allergy symptoms. Some antihistamines make you drowsy so use with care.
Nasal sprays can relieve stuffiness. DO NOT use over-the-counter (OTC) nasal sprays more often than 3 days on and 3 days off, unless told to by your doctor.
Many cough, allergy, and cold medicines you buy have more than one medicine inside. Read the labels carefully to make sure you do not take too much of any one medicine. Ask your health care provide which cold medicines are safe for you
If you have allergies:
Your provider may also prescribe nasal sprays that treat allergy symptoms
Bachert C, Gevaert P, van Cauwenberge P. Nasal polyps and rhinosinusitis. In: Adkinson NF Jr, Bochner BS, Burks AW, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 43.
Corren J, Baroody FM, Pawankar R. Allergic and non-allergic rhinitis. In: Adkinson NF Jr, Bochner BS, Burks AW, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 42.
Manning SC. Medical management of nasosinus infectious and inflammatory disease. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010:chap 50.
Ashutosh Kacker, MD, BS, Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.