How to Relieve Head Congestion

Three Methods:Taking Immediate ActionModifying Your DietClearing Congestion Naturally

To relieve head congestion, you'll need to unblock your sinuses so mucus can drain properly.

Method 1
Taking Immediate Action

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    Get a decongestant. A decongestant usually contains a cocktail of drugs to treat the multiple symptoms associated with congestion. In most cases, they are combined with an analgesic such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin to relieve headaches and sinus pain. These can be purchased over-the-counter at a drug store.[1]
    • Many decongestants such as phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine narrow the blood vessels to clear out nasal congestion. This also increases blood pressure. Therefore, proceed with caution if you already have high blood pressure.
    • This product can be found in tablets, capsules, liquids, and syrups.
    • Make sure to read the label carefully or talk to a doctor before taking a decongestant because serious side effects can occur in babies, pregnant women, and people with allergies. Take the correct dosage and do not abuse the medication.
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    Try saline nasal drops. Saline nasal drops are effective, safe, and non-irritating. Saline (salt water) helps to liquefy mucous secretions that block the sinuses and reduce the chance that the mucus will crust along the sinus cavity. Nasal drops (or sprays) will moisten the mucous membranes of the nasal sinuses and can be purchased over-the-counter at a drug store.[2]
    • It is recommended to take saline drops after the use of a decongestant.
    • Taking saline nasal drops will help you avoid the “rebound effect” often associated with obsessively taking a decongestant nasal spray.
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    Suck on some zinc lozenges. Taken as a lozenge or syrup, zinc has shown to reduce the length of a cold by up to one full day if taken during the onset of symptoms. Zinc lozenges and syrups can be purchased over-the-counter at a drug store.[3]
    • Zinc prevents the rhinovirus from multiplying and prevents it from lodging in the mucous membranes of the throat and nose. The rhinovirus is the source of most common colds.
    • Despite these initial findings, there is still not enough evidence that zinc has the impact on reducing head congestion as previously advertised. Zinc will boost the immune system against the virus but will have little influence on congestion.
    • Side effects usually include nausea, bad aftertaste, and the possibility of the loss of smell.

Method 2
Modifying Your Diet

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    Drink liquids. It is important to stay hydrated when you have a cold. Try to drink more liquids than you regularly drink during the day. You can be creative with your drinks to avoid dehydration and fight congestion.[4]
    • Drink water, juice, or a clear broth. You can add lemon or honey to help soothe your throat and loosen congestion. Sipping on warm liquids, such as chicken soup or warm apple juice, could increase mucus flow and relieve blockage.
    • A saltwater gargle can help relieve a sore or scratchy throat associated with congestion. Add about a quarter to one-half teaspoon of salt into an eight-ounce glass. Make sure the salt is dissolved before gargling.
    • Try some aromatic or herbal tea to relax your body, soothe your throat, and provide temporary relief to head congestion.
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    Eat to fight congestion. Some foods have sinus-healing properties. These foods are more likely to help ease your suffering from head congestion than they are going to cure it, but relief from congestion in any form will enable you to function better throughout the day.[5]
    • Pineapples consist of bromelain, a mixture of enzymes that digest protein, which have been used for centuries in South America to reduce inflammation from sinus surgery.[6]
    • Garlic releases the enzyme allicin, which destroys bacteria and viruses, when you crush or chop it. Wait ten minutes after you crush or chop garlic before cooking it.
    • Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, nuts, eggs, and flaxseed have anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate allergy-related conditions.
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    Take vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that counteracts histamine. Histamine causes inflammation, runny noses, sneezing, and other symptoms related to head congestion.[7]
    • Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. Eat lots of oranges, grapefruits, and strawberries to utilize the full effect of antioxidants.
    • Vegetables such as tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, kale, spinach, broccoli, and brussels sprouts also have lots of vitamin C. Make sure to choose red and green vegetables.
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    Get enough of your dietary polyphenols. Dietary polyphenols can effectively block the secretion of mucus while maintaining normal nasal ciliary motion. Polyphenols are the most abundant antioxidant in the human diet.[8]
    • Polyphenols are the main active ingredients in ginger (gingerol); red wine, tea, onions, dark leafy vegetables, and fruits (quercetin); green tea extract (EGCG); and curry extract (curcumin).

Method 3
Clearing Congestion Naturally

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    Increase humidity. Moist air will loosen mucus and help you breathe better by easing the symptoms caused by congestion. Buy a good humidifier that will keep your house between thirty and fifty percent humid.[9]
    • Maintain your humidifier regularly or it could become a health hazard. Monitor and clean your humidifier so that it does not become a haven for mold and the humidity level does not go too high or low. In both cases, you will cause more problems than you solve.
    • In addition, consider getting a hot bath, inhaling steam, or putting a hot cup of water under your nose to help loosen mucus.
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    Stick a nasal adhesive strip to your nose. At night, place a nasal adhesive strip on your nose to help you breathe better. These little strips are specially engineered to help manage nighttime congestion for a better night’s rest.[10]
    • A spring-like band that is flexible, nasal strips are made to fit right above the flare of your nostrils and stay there because of the adhesive.
    • Nasal adhesive strips are designed to help open inflamed sinus passages. They are effective against colds, allergies, and congestion.
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    Relax with acupressure. Acupressure is a type of self-massage that stimulates the muscles to relax. Done daily, acupressure can show improvement along with minimizing a recurrence of allergy and sinusitis symptoms.[11]
    • Specifically, apply deep firm pressure to self-massage the point between your thumb and index finger. This will relieve stress on your large intestine.
    • For the gallbladder, massage the back of your head at the cross between where the ear bone and neck meet.
    • These two points have been identified as places that can be stimulated to help open up your sinuses and reduce your symptoms.
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    Manage your stress. Engaging in activities to reduce your stress will help with the management of your allergies and sinusitis, which cause congestion. Stress negatively impacts your immune system, compromising your ability to deal with conditions that cause congestion..[12]
    • High levels of stress cause the quality and quantity of sleep to decrease resulting in dysregulation that intensifies the symptoms associated with allergies and sinusitis.
    • Try socializing with family, friends, and colleagues, listening to peaceful music, or finding some alone or quiet time to rest your mind and body.


  • Limit your consumption of dairy products, grains, sugars, and starchy vegetables while you are congested because they produce excess mucus.
  • Decrease the intensity of your exercise until you are decongested. Instead, try taking a walk or doing yoga.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, soda, and coffee because they will dehydrate you, making your symptoms worse.

Article Info

Categories: Colds and Viruses