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 - 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 drugs that shrink and dry up your nasal passages. They may help dry up a runny or stuffy nose.
Antihistamines are drugs that treat allergy symptoms. Some antihistamines make you drowsy so use with care.
Nasal sprays can relieve stuffiness. Don't use over-the-counter 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 don't take too much of any one medicine. Ask your health care provide which cold medications are safe for you
If you have allergies:
Your health care provider may also prescribe nasal sprays that treat allergy symptoms
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: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 50.
Ashutosh Kacker, MD, BS, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Associate Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.