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How do I get rid of a blocked nose or clear a blocked nose?

WebMD Commentary
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith

A blocked nose is common with colds and flu, but can also be caused by allergies and sinus infections.

Doctors may call a blocked nose 'nasal congestion'.

Usually home care and over-the-counter treatments can help clear a blocked nose.

These include short-term use of decongestant medicines to reduce swelling in the nose's blood vessels. Taking these treatments for longer than 7 days at a time, or longer than directed on the product package, can actually make the symptoms worse. Antihistamines may help with allergic symptoms.

You can help to thin nasal mucus by breathing in hot, humid air, such as by leaving the hot taps running in a bathroom, or from a vaporiser or humidifier. Inhaling menthol or eucalyptus oil as well may help. Do not use steam from a bowl of hot water as this poses a risk of scalding.

Some people find using a nasal rinse with a pharmacy bought saline solution, or a home-made version with a pint of cooled boiled water with a teaspoon of salt in it, can help.

If you still don't have a clear nose, seek medical advice. A doctor will ask about the symptoms, how long they have lasted, whether anything makes them worse or better and your medical history.

They may investigate possible allergies, or conditions affecting the nose, that make blockages more likely, including growths called polyps. If these are discovered, and found to be large, an operation to remove or reduce them in size may be recommended.

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Reviewed on November 14, 2017

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