Whether it's from hay fever, sinusitis or a common cold, swollen nasal passages can be quite a nuisance. Caused by inflammation of the delicate blood vessels around the passages, nasal congestion is usually not serious, and it can often be prevented or reduced with simple home remedies. If these remedies don't work, you may need to take an over-the-counter decongestant. In severe cases, such as when your nose produces yellow or green mucus, you should see your doctor immediately.
Drink extra fluids, especially hot tea or broth. Lack of moisture is a common cause of nasal passage swelling.
Increase the moisture in the air with a humidifier or a vaporizer. Alternatively, hold your face over a sink or a pot filled with steaming water. The heat will also help relax the nasal passages.
Rinse your nasal passages with a gentle saline solution using a neti pot, a squeeze bottle or a syringe. Tilt your head sideways as you carefully and slowly squirt or pour the saline into the upper nostril, letting the water course through the passageways and out the other nostril. Don't attempt this if your passageways are completely blocked. Make your own saline solution by dissolving 1/4 tsp. of table salt in 8 oz. of warm water.
Stop using a decongestant spray if you have been using it for more than two or three days. These sprays can actually make nasal congestion worse after a small amount of time.
Take an over-the-counter oral decongestant, along with an antihistamine if necessary. Some medications combine these two drugs, and some have additional unnecessary ingredients. Check the ingredients to ensure you are only taking what you need. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you aren't sure what is right for you.
See a doctor if you have prolonged nasal congestion or if you see yellow or green mucus, which is generally a sign of an infection.
Eliminate any environmental factors that may be causing your swelling, especially allergens such as pet hair, cigarette smoke, mold and dust. Clean your home regularly and consider investing in an air purifier.
Gently massaging the nasal passages, the area above the nose and the eyebrows may help relieve some sinus pressure.
See an allergy specialist to confirm which allergens affect you and to tailor your preventative approach.
If these natural remedies do not work, consult a doctor.
Call your doctor immediately if you have facial swelling, discolored mucus, blurred vision, pain or prolonged cough episodes.