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How To Get Rid Of A Stuffy Nose

Getting Relief From Nasal Congestion

Jan James, PA-C Profile Photo

Written by Jan James, PA-C on September 16, 2021

Medically reviewed by Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology

When you or your kids come down with a stuffy nose, it can be a pretty big annoyance until it goes away. The congestion, the sniffling, and the constant nose-blowing all make for a really unpleasant time, especially if your symptoms are persistent.

The proper way to treat a stuffy nose will vary a little bit depending on what exactly caused it in the first place. This is your complete guide to stuffy noses from causes, to medicine, to tried and true home remedies.

The Most Common Causes of a Stuffy Nose

There are a whole bunch of potential culprits for a stuffy nose, many of which share symptoms, and this can make identifying the cause a nearly impossible job sometimes.

The fact of the matter is that nasal congestion can be caused by anything, yes anything, that irritates your nasal passages and causes inflammation. From smoke and car exhaust to allergies and the flu, there are a wide variety of things that might leave you with a stuffy nose.

The most common causes of a stuffy nose include:

  • Sinus infections
  • Common cold
  • The flu
  • Allergies
  • Dry air or cold weather
  • Non-allergic rhinitis
  • Medication side effects
  • Foreign objects in the nose
  • Deviated septum
  • Nasal polyps or cysts

As you can see, infections and illnesses make up about half of this list, making them the top culprit for congestion. That said, there is always the possibility that your congestion is being caused by something else, and when it comes to your kids, it can be especially hard to know what is bugging them.

When To See a Doctor

Because it can sometimes be hard to know what is causing your kid’s congestion (or your own), it is important to get in touch with a doctor if you have questions or concerns!

Additionally, in some cases, emergency symptoms may present, or symptoms may show up that will indicate a more serious problem.

Signs that you should get medical attention include:

  • Symptoms that last more than 10 days
  • Symptoms that seem to worsen or do not improve
  • Congestion that is accompanied by a high fever
  • Yellow or green nasal discharge that is accompanied by sinus pain and pressure, which can be a sign of a bacterial infection
  • Blood in the nasal discharge or persistent clear nasal discharge following head injury
  • Your child is under 2 months old and has a fever
  • Your baby is experiencing symptoms that make it hard for them to breathe or nurse

If any of these symptoms present themselves, you should seek medical attention promptly. Even if congestion is initially caused by something harmless like a cold, there is always a chance that it will lead to further complications.

How To Get Rid of a Stuffy Nose

Once you figure out what is causing your congestion, you can start working to ease the symptoms.

For allergies, some allergy medicine usually does the trick. If your child is dealing with congestion and you suspect that allergies may be the reason, you should contact your pediatrician! They can refer you to an allergy specialist who will help you determine what allergens and irritants your kiddo may be sensitive to, and you can help your child avoid these in the future or give them allergy medicine when avoidance is impossible.

When congestion is caused by a common cold, not to worry -- a cold will usually resolve all on its own within 7-10 days. In the meantime, though, there are a few things you can do to ease the discomfort.

Home remedies that can help ease a stuffy nose include:

  • Blowing your nose to get rid of mucus
  • Using saline sprays or drops to thin and loosen mucus
  • Drinking plenty of fluids in order to stay hydrated and help thin nasal mucus and makes it easier to blow your nose effectively
  • Using a humidifier or the steam from a shower to add moisture into the air, which can help soothe nasal irritation and inflammation

For children under the age of 1 year who are struggling with congestion, you should try a nasal bulb syringe. This product works to suck out mucus from your baby’s nose, which is helpful because children this young are unable to blow their nose. Using suction to clear the nasal passages can also make it easier for your baby to breathe and nurse while they are feeling under the weather. You can also combine this method with a saline solution by adding 2 drops of saline into each of your baby’s nostrils and then proceeding to use the syringe to suction the mucus away. The saline works to help loosen the mucus before you try to use suction.

It is important to keep in mind that treatment is not always needed! If your child’s symptoms do not seem to be bothering them and do not interfere with their daily life, they may not need treatment at all.

That said, if more serious symptoms appear or if the congestion becomes a big problem, you should never assume that it is nothing to worry about. When it comes to your little one’s health, you should always play it safe and contact your pediatrician when any problems or concerns arise! They will be able to guide you as well as find the cause of your child’s symptoms.

Where Medicine Comes Into the Picture

In cases where symptoms do begin to cause your child some discomfort or interfere with their sleep, cold medicine might do the trick. First, though, you should make sure that it really is a cold that is causing the congestion -- allergies, for example, will not respond to cold medicine, nor will congestion that is caused by a structural issue like a deviated septum.

If you have already determined that a cold is the culprit, Genexa’s Kids’ Cold Crush may be just the thing your little one needs. This homeopathic remedy addresses many common symptoms of a cold including congestion, runny nose, sore throat, cough, and mucus, making it a great choice when your kiddo is under the weather. It is great for kids between the ages of 3 and 11 years, and if your child is under 3 years old, just consult your doctor before using!

Genexa is also the first clean medicine brand, meaning they offer medicine with the active ingredients you need, without the artificial inactive ingredients you don’t need or want to give to your kids. Genexa was founded by two dads who know what it is like to struggle to find the best options as a parent, as everyone knows parents want the best for their children!

Genexa makes real, clean medicine you can trust, and they are committed to revolutionizing the world of medicine one clean product at a time.

When it comes to giving cold medicine to your child, it is always a great idea to consult your pediatrician first, especially if it is a product you have never tried before. Other than that, as long as you follow the proper dosages, this kind of medicine is perfectly safe.

The Bottom Line

Though a stuffy nose can be extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant during the time that it hangs around, it is almost always very easy to treat. In fact, a stuffy nose that is caused by a cold will resolve in about 7-10 days, because a cold resolves on its own!

Sometimes, a stuffy nose may be a sign of certain infections, like a sinus infection. In these cases, it is important to seek medical attention so that the proper antibiotics can be prescribed and you can begin treatment quickly. If your child shows symptoms of a sinus infection or other, more serious illness, you should contact your pediatrician in order to get to the bottom of it.

Home remedies like a humidifier or steam, saline solution, staying hydrated, and blowing your nose can all work to help ease congestion. Additionally, you can use certain methods in combination for better results- just make sure not to mix medicines unless a doctor instructs you to do so.

The medicine a doctor recommends will vary depending on the cause of your congestion, which is why it is so important to get a professional opinion. Allergies will require different treatment than a cold or the flu, for example. By and large, though, a stuffy nose is usually highly treatable, and you or your kids should be feeling normal again in no time.


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