Stuffy nose woes
September 28, 2009 8:49 PM   Subscribe

Hit me with your best stuffy-nose remedies.

I have a bad cold. I'm past the sore-throat and fever stage and into the stuffy, runny nose and bad sinus pressure stage. Whenever I stay still for more than a few minutes (by, say, sitting and reading), or ESPECIALLY when I lie down, my nasal passages become so impassable that it's impossible to breathe without salivating uncomfortably. I couldn't sleep last night and I probably won't sleep tonight. What can I do, besides taking Sudafed every 4 hours? Any foods, supplements, temperature manipulations, other tricks?
posted by ms.codex to Health & Fitness (37 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Mucinex for the stuffy nose, and a swig of Nyquil to knock yourself out.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:51 PM on September 28, 2009

Let me qualify my answer above by saying that my sinuses are frequently stuffed (thanks, dust mite allergy!), and the above is what works for me. A hot steamy shower will help the stuffiness, but it comes right back as soon as you're out of the bathroom.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:54 PM on September 28, 2009

Oxymetazoline nasal spray is what works for me. I use "Neo-Synephrine Night-time" because they don't put camphor in it like some other brands do, and camphor gives me nosebleeds.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:55 PM on September 28, 2009

A neti pot really helped me. I know it seems super gross, but it really does clear you out and relieve some of that pressure. Hot baths and showers help some as well.
posted by runningwithscissors at 8:55 PM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

Afrin works wonders but be careful, it's addictive.
posted by lannanh at 8:55 PM on September 28, 2009

There are plenty of natural remedies, but when it's that bad, the only thing that helps me is Afrin + Breathe Rite strips.
posted by for_serious at 8:57 PM on September 28, 2009

On preview, seconding a Neti pot. Awkward YouTube link here. You'll feel really awkward, but once you get used to the process of rinsing your sinuses, the Neti pot provides blissful relief with none of the nasty druggy side effects. It lets you sleep! YAY! Available at your local drug store or Target (in the pharmacy area) for less than $15.
posted by samthemander at 8:58 PM on September 28, 2009

Seconding Afrin (and seconding the warning that it's addictive). I only use it when I'm desperate. BUT IT WORKS. It is magic.

NyQuil too - I just took my dose.

posted by Sassyfras at 9:02 PM on September 28, 2009

Nthing the neti pot. But my favourite is still Friar's Balsam heated in water in a pot you'll never use again. Steam yourself. It will clear everything out of you, much better than Vicks. And Buckley's decongestant formula. Horrible, but it works, esp for the crud that runs down into your chest. My sympathies and wishes for speedy recovery.
posted by x46 at 9:03 PM on September 28, 2009

I find this works: (posted today to another askmefi thread)
It's a massage technique that gets your sinuses unblocked.
posted by titanium_geek at 9:09 PM on September 28, 2009

A Neti pot, preceded by a hot shower or bath. It really, really helps clear you out. I have had sinus problems my entire life and it is the best remedy I've found. Simply Saline is the same idea in a disposable container with premixed solution (a neti pot and some pickling salt is much much cheaper in the long run and equally effective). Afrin is helpful, but be careful because if you use it for more than a few days at a time it can cause rebound congestion.

I also find that chicken noodle soup sprinkled with some cayenne pepper really helps.

Feel better!
posted by jengineer at 9:09 PM on September 28, 2009

Neti pot (or your nasal irrigation method of choice) every day. Steam is ahhhhh. Mucinex is key, but drink A LOT of water or it's useless. Afrin is pure magic, just don't use it for more than three days to avoid rebound.
posted by desuetude at 9:11 PM on September 28, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! Off to Walgreens to look for Afrin, Mucinex, and/or these neti-pot things.
posted by ms.codex at 9:11 PM on September 28, 2009

Third the Afrin on both the "it works" and the "it's addictive, and should not be used for more than a few days" fronts. For me, most colds only have two or so nights where sleeping is difficult because I can't breathe; that's when I bust out the Afrin. Bonus: it is a truly great thing to have if you are stuck making presentations when you are sick, which always seems to be the case for me.
posted by ubersturm at 9:12 PM on September 28, 2009

Get out your hairdryer.
posted by paulsc at 9:17 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

I just eat the hottest ethnic food I can find. For whatever reason that loosens up my nose immediately.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:27 PM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

If you manage to check this before your Walgreens trip, or for future reference, I'm a fan of a combo:
-neti pot
-Vicks Vaporub around your neck before your sleep, maybe a bit on your upper lip too!
-vaporizing shower tablets - sound & look crazy but definitely make you feel better
-really spicy foods, might I suggest a dozen Buffalo wings?
posted by knile at 9:31 PM on September 28, 2009

to the people that say steam helps, but is temporary, you have loosened the snot, now you need to shift it. (blow your nose as needed in the shower- it's gross but works.) You're nice and warm, nude after your shower. Start stroking your lymph nodes (under your arms) and move up across your chest, up your neck and eventually to your nose and sinuses. Do ~4 short strokes at a location then a long stroke back to the lymph node, then move further up. If you like, work your way back down to the lymph nodes after you get to your head.

Also massage your face/sinuses and tap gently along your eyebrows etc to loosen the gunk. It's a two step process- once the snot is moving you need to get rid of it somehow.
posted by titanium_geek at 9:33 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

I shave like half of a fresh ginger root (use a vegetable peeler) and steep it in hot water for about five minutes. Strain, squeeze in half a lemon, add honey and/or a slug of whiskey! Delicious, and clears me right up.
posted by drinkyclown at 10:01 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

I can't believe nobody has mentioned the Hot Toddy. I was introduced to the hot toddy by a director fried of mine to keep actors with colds on stage and not home sick. Basically mix whiskey, either Irish or Bourbon, with hot water, lemon, and honey, and, maybe some sort of tea. It will cure anything that ails you.
posted by Uncle at 10:08 PM on September 28, 2009

I would limit Afrin to three days, maximum. I did it for 5 days once, and suffered through 2.5 weeks of stuffiness without it. Miserable.
posted by shinynewnick at 10:28 PM on September 28, 2009

Those Vicks nasal inhalers work great. Just use it when you feel the stuffiness coming on. Breath as deep as you can and extra hard if your stuffed up. Hot Toddys work well too as others have mentioned. My parents always just used to give us whiskey, hot water, honey and a little lemon juice. Adjust to taste.
posted by Taurid at 10:42 PM on September 28, 2009

I prefer a Vicks Vapor Inhaler over Afrin.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:43 PM on September 28, 2009

Sinus Buster aka pepper spray
posted by hortense at 10:57 PM on September 28, 2009

Thai food!
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 1:57 AM on September 29, 2009

Steaming yourself over a large pot or a sink works better than a shower. You can cover your head with a towel and create a mini sauna. Have tissues ready!

I imagine this would provide the same effect as the hairdryer technique, while preventing any excessive drying of your nasal passages.
posted by orme at 4:35 AM on September 29, 2009

Mexican food, and nice and spicy. I usually go for the 2 enchiladas one taco meal (#15 and 21 depending on which one I go to in town). Nice and cheap and you're making sure you get food, something that I don't always do when I feel like crap.
posted by theichibun at 5:13 AM on September 29, 2009

A neti pot or (even better IMHO) a nasal rinse system like the one Ayr has (it's more of a squirt bottle) is awesome, and really helps clear some junk out and soothe your nasal passages. When I am sick, however, it's not always enough on its own, so I also take pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) *and* Mucinex (guaifenesin) *and* a shit fuck-ton of fluids. The Mucinex tends to loosen up all the gunk (with the help of the fluids you're drinking), making the neti pot / nasal rinse have an easier time of rinsing stuff out.

Failing that, I have used those Afrin-type nasal sprays in serious emergencies and only for bedtime (they stop working if you use them too frequently, and can make your congestion even worse in the long-run). The best one I have ever used was the Zicam brand Intense Congestion Relief Nasal Gel (it is not the same Zicam product that causes you to lose your sense of smell, I believe) -- it contains Oxymetazoline Hydrochloride (which I believe is what's in Afrin) and also menthol, which provides the most awesome nasal-clearing/refreshing sensation ever. My husband gets cranky because it is a Zicam product and he hates them, but this one really, really works.

Also, steaming yourself over a sink with hot, steamy water can help. Plug the sink, put a big towel over your shoulders and head and lean over the sink (creating a tent with the towel), and run the hot water. The steam can also help break up the congestion.
posted by tastybrains at 5:38 AM on September 29, 2009

For temporary relief: ORGASM!
posted by sunshinesky at 5:54 AM on September 29, 2009

I find Oblas Oil to be very effective. Put a drop on a Q-tip and roll it around the edge of the inside of your nose. It's all about the vapors.
posted by KathyK at 6:00 AM on September 29, 2009

Seconding Olbas Oil. Seen a number of people saying it's impossibly to get in the States, but it's amazing stuff. I can't sleep if I can't breathe properly through my nose, and started having a bottle of Olbas Oil around in case. A whiff of that stuff and within minnutes I'm breathing freely again.
posted by opsin at 6:03 AM on September 29, 2009

Pho is a miracle food. Add as many jalapeno slices as you can and slurp it on down.
posted by specialagentwebb at 6:34 AM on September 29, 2009

OK, this is weird, but: squeeze some gel out of an aloe plant and snort it in each nostril. It smells horrible, tastes bad if it gets in your throat, but my nose clears up within a few minutes after that.

Also, exercise and sex.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 7:09 AM on September 29, 2009

I used to chew four Altoids at a time. (Now I take Flonase once a day.)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:18 AM on September 29, 2009

There's this thread for combating the addictive effects nasal spray. Sometimes you have to weigh the addiction horrors against not being able to sleep when you're sick and just deal with the addiction later.
posted by gladly at 10:35 AM on September 29, 2009

I use Xlear nasal spray for colds and flu as well as my everyday sinus miseries. The xylitol in it (a natural sugar) destroys bacteria that cause troubles, including sinus infections.
posted by bryon at 2:55 PM on September 29, 2009

Seconding Olbas Oil. Seen a number of people saying it's impossibly to get in the States, but it's amazing stuff.

Is this what you're talking about?

I picked one up at Whole Foods last year.
posted by orme at 5:59 PM on September 29, 2009

« Older Author! Author!   |   Name that tune (for the umpteenth time, kthx) Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.