How to Get Rid of a Blocked Nose

Updated July 19, 2017

A blocked nose means your nasal passages feel full and stuffy. You may have a runny nose as well. The condition can interfere with your ears, hearing and speech development, and when your case of blocked nose is more severe it can cause snoring and interfere with sleeping. Your nose gets blocked when inflamed blood vessels make the tissues lining your nose swell. A blocked nose can be caused by the common cold, flu, hay fever, sinus infection and, indeed, using too much nasal spray designed to keep the nose clear. A blocked nose, also called nasal congestion and stuffy nose, can be uncomfortable and painful when it causes pressure in your face. There are treatment options to get rid of the problem.

Treat yourself. Try over-the-counter medicines to get rid of your blocked nose. Decongestants relieve nasal stuffiness by shrinking blood vessels in the lining of the nose. Use antihistamines to reduce mucus. Use saline nasal sprays to thin mucus. You can also thin mucus by using a humidifier and consuming more fluids such as hot tea or broth.

See a doctor. Treating yourself may not be the best option if your blocked nose is accompanied by certain symptoms such as blurred vision, coughing longer than 10 days, coughing up grey or yellow-green mucus, facial swelling, throat pain, and yellow or white spots on your throat. You should also see a doctor if your blocked nose lasts more than two weeks and interferes with your daily life.

Have diagnostic tests. A physical exam by your doctor may not be enough to diagnose your blocked nose properly and determine the right treatment. You may need to have diagnostic tests such as X-rays of the sinuses and chest, blood tests, and culture tests of sputum and throat. An allergy test also might be needed, but you will have to see an allergist to have it done.

Try stronger medicine. Your doctor may recommend prescription-strength medicines for blocked-nose symptom relief.


Sleep with your head elevated to relieve congestion. Consider trying adhesive nasal strips for congestion.


There are side effects of some blocked-nose medicines. Using decongestant nasal sprays for more than three days might make your congestion worse. Some antihistamines can make you drowsy, which can impair your ability to drive, work or carry on regular activities.

Things You'll Need

  • Humidifier
  • Decongestants
  • Antihistamines
  • Nasal saline spray
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About the Author

Serena Brown graduated from the University of South Alabama with a bachelor's degree in communication. She has more than 15 years of experience in newspaper, radio and television reporting. Brown has also authored educational, medical and fitness material.