Millions of Americans battle stuffy noses, watery eyes and labored breathing every day. If you are among them, knowing the major kinds of congestion fighters can help you get relief.
Over-the-counter decongestants come in pill or spray form and work by shrinking swollen blood vessels in the nose and air passages. But these medicines have what is known as a rebound effect. That means the drugs lose effectiveness after a while, so you have to take more to get the same relief, according to the website Everyday Health.
Most stuffy noses are caused by a virus or allergies, so antibiotics are ineffective. Dietary supplements like zinc may help. These work by binding with receptors on cold and flu viruses to lower the amount of the virus circulating in your body. Other supplements — such as echinacea, vitamin C and probiotics — boost immune function instead of clearing a stuffy nose.
Another popular remedy is saltwater, which moistens and cleans the nasal passages. Mix one quart of water, one teaspoon of kosher salt and a quarter teaspoon baking soda, and then spray it into your nasal passages. Saline nasal sprays, which moisten and help drain a stuffy nose, are convenient and safe because the contents are premixed and sterile. You can also use a Neti pot, which allows you to thoroughly rinse out your nasal passages.
Those who are squeamish about rinsing out their nose might try moistening the air by using a humidifier.
If your congestion symptoms last more than 10 days, you have a fever of more than 101.5 degrees, or your symptoms worsen over time, it could be a sign of something more serious. Seek out medical care.