Remedies for stuffed nose

How to Get Rid of a Head Cold

Oh, your aching head! If you’re suffering from unbearable nasal congestion and headache, you probably have a head cold. The reason you’re so stuffed up? When you have a head cold, the membranes lining your nasal passages become swollen and produce excess mucus to flush out whatever is causing the irritation, whether it’s a virus or an allergen. You might experience pain in your forehead, under your eyes or in your upper teeth.

The key to getting rid of a head cold is to reduce sinus swelling and help mucus drain from your sinuses. Although it might seem counterintuitive, keeping your nasal passages moist is the best way to clear out congestion—dry sinuses will only result in further irritation. Try these simple tips to clear up a head cold and help relieve headache and sinus pressure.

Use a humidifier

Since breathing in dry air will dry out your sinuses, it’s best to add moisture back into your environment by using a cool-mist humidifier or steam vaporizer. You can also try breathing in steam from a hot shower. Doing so can help soothe the irritated membranes lining your nasal passages.

Reach for a warm compress

A great way to ease a headache and sinus pressure is to place a warm compress on your forehead and nose. If you don’t have a compress, try moistening a washcloth with warm water and applying it to your face several times a day. This will help relieve nasal congestion and relieve your head cold symptoms.

Irrigate your sinuses

Flushing out your sinuses with salt water can help clear out mucus and other irritants (like pollen, dust and bacteria) and reduce inflammation of the mucous membrane, resulting in better drainage. This can be done with a neti pot, syringe or various other products that can be found in drug stores. When using a nasal rinse, be sure to use sterile or previously boiled water, and rinse and dry the device thoroughly after each use.

Try a nasal spray

If a nasal wash isn’t for you, try using a nasal saline spray. Similar to a nasal wash, it can help add moisture to your sinuses and flush out irritants and infectious agents. Look for a mist formula and apply it up to six times a day.

Drink plenty of fluids

There’s a reason chicken soup tastes so good when you have a cold: Sipping lots of liquids can help thin out your mucus and promote nasal drainage. Try drinking water, tea and warm milk.

Take a decongestant

Over-the-counter nasal decongestants reduce blood flow to the nasal membranes, which decreases swelling and congestion. They can help open up your nasal passages and decrease the pain and pressure in your sinuses and head. For fast relief, try Sinex Daytime Sinus Congestion Relief—the non-drowsy formula contains a powerful pain reliever and phenylephrine, a safe and effective decongestant. If your sinus congestion is worse at night, try Sinex Nighttime Sinus & Congestion Relief. In addition to a pain reliever and decongestant, it contains an antihistamine to help stop sneezing and a runny nose, so you can get some much-needed rest.

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How to Relieve Sinus Pressure

While some over-the-counter treatments can help reduce symptoms, there are also many effective natural remedies.

1. Steam

Dry air and dry sinuses can increase sinus pressure and cause headaches and throbbing pain. Steam adds moisture to the air, helps to moisten your sinus passages, and thins out mucus that may have thickened over time.

Take a hot shower and breathe in the steam to reduce pressure. You can also use a humidifier for more long-term relief.

Buy a humidifier now.

For an extra boost, add eucalyptus oil to your bath to speed your recovery. Eucalyptus contains cineole, an ingredient known to speed healing of acute sinusitis. The oil also may help to reduce nasal stuffiness and clear your pathways.

2. Saline flush

A common treatment for sinus pressure and congestion is a saline wash. Saline spray contains salt that helps to increase moisture in your nose and reduce sinus pressure. You can buy saline spray in drugstores, or you can make your own with baking soda, distilled water, and iodine-free salt.

3. Resting

A good night’s sleep can help the body to heal. Sleep stimulates your brain to release hormones that encourage tissue growth. Also when you’re at rest, your body is able to produce more white blood cells essential for attacking viruses and other bacteria.

Try to avoid activities or beverages that are over-stimulating before bed. Allowing your body to rest can help to reduce sinus pressure, speed your recovery time, and leave you feeling more refreshed. Check out some natural sleep aids if you need some added help.

4. Elevation

Just as sleep is essential for healing, how you sleep can alleviate sinus symptoms. Lying flat can increase mucus buildup in your nasal passages, increase your sinus pressure, and disrupt your sleep cycle.

Prop your head up with pillows at night to keep your head above your heart. This sleeping position will prevent sinus buildup and can help you to breathe more comfortably.

5. Hydration

Dehydration can contribute to your sinus passages drying out and increased pressure in your face. Increase your water intake throughout the day if you’re feeling under the weather. Fluids will reduce blockages in your sinuses.

While water may be your first choice to remain hydrated, you can also retain fluids through other foods and beverages including:

  • broth soups
  • ice cubes
  • tea
  • water-based vegetables and fruits

6. Relaxation techniques

Your sinus pressure may cause you to feel tension in your head, face, and neck. Biofeedback therapy, an alternative treatment method that teaches you how to control your bodily functions, can relieve this pressure.

This method has had proven success in relieving headaches, incorporating deep breathing exercises and meditation to achieve relaxation and reduce pain. Yoga, meditation, and other relaxation techniques can help to reduce pain and pressure from sinus infections.

7. Exercise

Similar to yoga, exercise can reduce sinus pressure. Physical activity can increase blood circulation and temporarily relieve congestion to ease breathing. Although uncomfortable to perform while being sick, physical activity can help to improve your recovery time and speed healing.

Common Cold (Homeopathy)

Primary Remedies

Arsenicum album

A person who has frequent colds, sore throats, and chest problems—with burning pain and feelings of weakness, restlessness, and anxiety—may benefit from this remedy. The person’s head may feel hot while the rest of the body is cold, and problems can be worse near midnight. The nose often feels stopped up, and the person may sneeze repeatedly, without relief. White, think, burning mucus may be produced.


This remedy relieves high fever of sudden onset with sweating.


Red, watery, irritated eyes, frequent sneezing, and a mild, clear nasal discharge suggests a need for this remedy. The person may cough from irritation and from phlegm collecting in the throat. Symptoms can be worse at night, and the person tends to feel better from eating and lying down.

Natrum muriaticum

Colds with clear nasal discharge like egg-white, sneezing (which is often worse in the morning), headache, and a diminished sense of smell or taste may respond to this remedy. The person may develop cold sores around the mouth, and the lips can be chapped and cracked.

Nux vomica

This relieves spasmodic sneezing in the morning, with a dry nose during the night.


This remedy relieves non-irritant yellowish nasal discharge with a dry nose at night that becomes runny during the day, and loss of smell and taste.

Other Remedies

Aconitum napellus

This remedy relieves high fever of sudden onset, with a hot face and dry skin, especially after exposure to intense cold.

Allium cepa

This relieves spasmodic sneezing and runny nose with an irritating, watery discharge, improved by fresh air.

Baryta carbonica

This remedy is indicated for people who frequently catch colds from getting chilled. A runny nose and swollen upper lip, swollen lymph nodes, tonsils, and adenoids are typical symptoms. This remedy is often helpful to children who are bashful and slow to develop.


When a person comes down with a cold after getting wet and chilled, or if colds come on when the weather changes, this remedy should come to mind. A stopped-up nose and face pain are likely. A person who needs Dulcamara also tends to have allergies.

Ferrum phosphoricum

This remedy relieves low-grade fever with weakness and tendency to nosebleeds and earaches.


Lethargy and aching, with headache and droopy eyes, often indicate this remedy. Fever and chills run up and down the spine, and heat or pressure may be felt in the face and nose. A person who needs Gelsemium often trembles and is shaky, or feels extremely dull. This remedy is often helpful for colds that come on in hot weather.

Hydrastis canadensis

This remedy relieves thick nasal discharge that irritates the throat.

Kali bichromicum

This helps relieve thick, greenish, irritating nasal discharge.

Kali iodatum

This remedy relieves runny nose with acrid watery discharge, with pain at the base of the nose.

Kali muriaticum

This helps relieve ear congestion with cracking sounds in the ear, worsened by the change in pressure.

Mercurius solubilis

A person who needs this remedy is extremely sensitive to temperatures, and experiences night sweats and drooling during sleep. Swollen lymph nodes and bad breath are other indications. The person’s nose may feel raw, and the tonsils or ears often become infected.


A person whose colds go easily to the chest often responds to this remedy. One nostril may be blocked while the other runs. Hoarseness, laryngitis, and nosebleeds are other likely symptoms. The person often is thirsty for cold drinks and feels better from massage. People who need this remedy often feel weak, “spaced out,” and anxious or fearful when ill.

Rhus toxicodendron

If a cold begins with stiffness and body aches, especially during cool damp weather or weather changes, and leads to nasal congestion or sore throat, this remedy should come to mind. The person feels extremely restless and often paces or fidget. Warmth and motion bring relief, both physically and mentally.

Sulphur iodatum

This remedy relieves lingering symptoms (cough, nasal congestion) after a severe cold or flu.

Sinus problems, including sinus pain, afflict some 30 million Americans annually. In fact, it is one of the most prevalent health issues for which patients seek medical care.

For many, the symptoms of a sinus problem include pain (facial and head), fever, weakness, fatigue, cough, and congestion. There may also be mucus drainage in the back of the throat, called postnasal drip.

Can homeopathy help?

Yes. What follows are a few homeopathic remedies to consider when you have an acute flare-up.

Homeopathy is governed by a law of nature – “like cures like.” As a result, remember – the key to choosing the correct/helpful remedy is ALWAYS the same. One must match the “characteristic symptoms” (ie, unusual or peculiar) of the person you are caring for (not the common ones like headache, sore throat, cough, fever, etc.) to a remedy capable of producing similar characteristic symptoms to have success. If you choose a remedy with characteristics most similar to the characteristic symptoms of your family member, you should have a happy outcome every time. If you don’t – you or they will either feel no effect or one that is mildly positive at best, but there is never a bad effect from choosing the “wrong” remedy.

Hepar sulphuris: A person needing this homeopathic remedy often experiences a copious mucus discharge from the nose with an almost constant need to blow the nose. The mucus discharged may be thick yellow or green, and maybe even offensive smelling. There can also be heat and burning in the nose with the interior of the nose sensitive to the passage of air (particularly cold air) and touch. The nose is frequently stuffed up in the morning and there may be itching in the nose that causes sneezing. There can also be head pain felt as an aching in the forehead or a boring pain at the root of the nose. You may feel worse when blowing the nose; from cold in general (you will find yourself hypersensitive to cold, pain and touch); in cold air; and in cold and dry weather.

Kali bichromium: One should think of this remedy when discharges from the nose (and throat) are tough, stringy, adherent mucus – mucus which can be drawn out into long strings. The nose may be stuffed up, especially the upper part, and there may be difficulty detaching thick mucus –even if there is a lot of post-nasal drip. If there is head pain, it is often felt over one or both eyes and can at times be of a throbbing nature and very painful. One may also experience pain from the back of the head to the forehead if the nasal discharge ceases. This, too, is a remedy where there is a lot of mucus!

Mercurius solubilis: A person needing this homeopathic remedy often experiences much sneezing with a fluent and often acrid discharge from the nose. Some portion of the mucus may trickle down post-nasally into the throat causing hawking, hoarseness and a dry, rough cough from continual tickling in the throat. The acrid discharge from the nose (which may at times take on a greenish hue) can smell like old cheese. There are often pressing and/or tearing pains in the forehead, cheeks, upper teeth, and ears. If there is a headache, there is also much congestion to the head with the head feeling as if it would burst or as if it is in a vise. The patient is thirsty even though the mouth is quite moist. The breath will often be very offensive during the illness. Typically someone needing this remedy feels worse in damp weather, at night and from either cold or warm air. They may also feel a bit restless during the ailment.

Phosphorus: Someone needing this homeopathic remedy often complains of having a stuffed nose one moment and fluent nasal discharges the next. These symptoms often come with a feeling of dullness in the head and a sore throat. Hoarseness often follows. The mucus from the nose is typically profuse, greenish, yellow and blood-streaked. In fact, there is frequently blood in the mucus on blowing the nose. Your patient may complain that their smell and taste are gone. There will frequently be a dull pain in the forehead to the root of the nose and to the upper eyelids, with a feeling of pressure extending into eyes or a pressive headache above the eyes. Someone needing Phosphorus is always thirsty for cold drinks during their illness.

Pulsatilla: Someone needing this homeopathic remedy often complains of nasal congestion that is stopped up at night and flows more easily in the morning. The discharge from the nose in the morning is typically yellow or yellow-green and can be offensive smelling.Your loved one may complain of feeling much worse and much more congested in a warm room and far better and less congested in the cool, open air. Head pain is usually frontal with what can be described as tearing pains in the sinuses beneath the eyes. The head pains can feel heavy, with bursting and throbbing pain and may be relieved by wrapping the head tightly. Pulsatilla patients are typically thirstless, even with dryness of the mouth. They may also complain of a bad taste in the mouth with the dryness. Mentally – they may be a bit weepy and needy.

If you or someone you know is experiencing sinus pain and their symptoms match those of one of the remedies in this article, dose with that remedy using either a 30C or 200C potency to start – placing one pellet under the tongue or one pellet in water, stirring vigorously and taking teaspoon doses as needed. Always cease dosing when relief begins and only re-dose if symptoms again worsen. As with any medical condition, consult with your physician if you have any concerns about the severity of your problem as it may first require medical diagnosis and/or intervention and monitoring.

About Dr. Lisa Samet

Dr. Lisa Samet N.D. provides Washington Homeopathic Products with a weekly column on using homeopathy for the family. She’s a naturopathic physician who specializes in homeopathic medicine and she’s a partner with Dr. Andre Saine N.D. She is perhaps best known as a guest expert on homeopathy used by Dr. Mehmet Oz M.D. on the popular TV program – the Dr. Oz Show. Dr. Samet graduated from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1998 and has been practicing in Montreal since then. She was born and raised in New York.

Dr. Samet has chosen to focus on homeopathy because in her experience it is the deepest healing modality available in that it does not just soothe or palliate symptoms but can actually stimulate the body to start to heal itself. Dr. Samet sees patients in her Montreal office as well as long distance using Skype. Learn more here: Dr. Lisa Samet. You can follow her on Facebook as well.

Photo credit: brendan.wood via / CC BY-SA

British Homeopathic Association


However, self-prescribing is often difficult and the advice of a health professional trained in homeopathy will always provide the most appropriate treatment and most effective outcome. This is especially important if receiving other homeopathic treatment from a qualified practitioner.

In Europe and America, a very popular homeopathic product called Oscillococcinum can be bought over the counter for the prevention and treatment of colds and flu. This product is not licensed for general retail sale in the UK, but might be obtained with a doctor’s prescription.

Other therapies
Aromatherapy oils can also be very good for relieving many of the symptoms of colds and flu, if used appropriately and after seeking professional advice. Oils can be used in an inhalation or diluted in a carrier oil such as almond or grapeseed for use in massage. Peppermint and eucalyptus oils can be used to clear the head, unblock the nose and ease muscular aches and pains. Peppermint oil can also be placed in a hot footbath to help draw toxins from the body. Tea tree oil is used for its intrinsic anti-viral properties and to boost immunity and lavender oil is good for easing headaches, muscle aches and pains and soothing chesty coughs. For adults, add a few drops of oil to a bath, vaporiser or bowl of hot water and inhale. For children or babies, a few drops in a cup of warm water placed above the radiator in their bedroom at night can work wonders.

Herbal remedies, vitamins and supplements also have much to offer. A number of studies have shown that taking zinc and vitamin C during a cold can actually shorten its duration by as much as 50 percent. The herb echinacea can boost the immune system and help prevent infection from taking hold if taken regularly.

Home remedies
Even so much as mention a runny nose or sore throat within earshot of my grandma and she’ll promptly whip up a batch (or seven) of her famous chicken soup! If we consider some of the key ingredients, we begin to realise that the use of this traditional remedy actually has some basis in fact. It has a high salt content and, as we know, gargling with salted water helps to destroy bacteria and ease symptoms of a sore throat. Onions and garlic (theAllium remedies in homeopathy) are also excellent for colds.

While in the kitchen, ensure your cupboard is well stocked with honey to coat a dry, scratchy throat, lemon and other citrus fruits for their vitamin C and antioxidant properties and cinnamon for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Tea prepared with these ingredients (or a “hot toddy” containing one other important Scottish ingredient) is very soothing and helps to promote a good night’s sleep. Perhaps Grandma really does know best after all!

Lee Kayne PhD MRPharmS DFHom(Pharm) is a community pharmacist in Glasgow.

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