How to Get Rid of Sinus Congestion Without a Decongestant

Written by sheila krehbiel
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Sinus congestion can occur anytime of year but often worsens in the high-pollen count autumn and dry winter. Many people affected by runny noses, stuffy heads and cloudy thinking--all due to some form of sinusitis--want relief without resorting to medications like decongestants. Several moisture-inducing options are available that may help clear up congestion, while nasal irrigation via a neti pot has proven highly effective for many sinus and allergy sufferers. Any of these ideas may work on their own or in conjunction with other methods.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Humidifier
  • Water bottle
  • Nasal saline spray
  • Neti pot
  • 1/4 tsp non-iodised table salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • Spoon
  • 227gr distilled water

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  1. 1

    Fill the humidifier with cool water.

  2. 2

    Place the humidifier in the room in which you spend the most time; for most people, this is the bedroom.

  3. 3

    Plug in the humidifier in and turn it on. Note how the mist exits the machine. If the mist appears to arch downward, the setting may be too high; adjust accordingly until the mist evaporates right away.

    Water Bottle

  1. 1

    Fill the water bottle with nearly hot (not scalding) water.

  2. 2

    Place the water bottle on the congested area (e.g., forehead, eye, cheek) until the water cools.

  3. 3

    Repeat as necessary, until congestion pain subsides.

    Nasal Saline Spray

  1. 1

    Shake the solution well.

  2. 2

    Insert the tip of the nasal spray in one nostril and squeeze, inhaling as the mist enters the nasal cavity.

  3. 3

    Repeat for the other nostril.

  4. 4

    Use the nasal spray twice per day until any congestion has subsided.

    Nasal Irrigation

  1. 1

    Combine the non-iodised salt and baking soda in the neti pot.

  2. 2

    Add the distilled water to the neti pot, stirring until the salt and baking soda dissolve in the water.

  3. 3

    Microwave the solution for 15 to 20 seconds, just until pleasantly warm (not hot).

  4. 4

    While leaning over a sink, insert the tip of the neti pot in one nostril. Breathe through the mouth throughout the entire process. Tip the head just enough so that the solution flows through the nasal cavities and exits through the other nostril into the sink.

  5. 5

    Gently blow one nostril several times, followed by the other nostril.

  6. 6

    Repeat the entire process through the other nostril.

  7. 7

    Use the neti pot twice per day to clear congestion or once per day for maintenance.

Tips and warnings

  • Test the neti pot water before flowing through the nose to ensure a safe temperature; the water should be comfortably warm, not hot.

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