How to get rid of a blocked nose

We've all experienced the frustration and discomfort of a blocked nose. The struggle to talk normally, difficulty breathing and constant sniffing can be a real nuisance.

Many people assume their noses get blocked because they’re producing too much mucus, but that's not the full story. Most blocked noses are caused by irritation, which results in the blood vessels in our sinuses becoming swollen or inflamed.

Thankfully, decongestants can provide quick and effective relief to your blocked or stuffy nose, helping you breathe a little easier.

In this article, we'll look at:

  • What causes a blocked nose?

  • How to unblock a nose

  • Frequently asked questions

What causes a blocked nose?

A blocked nose is caused by the blood vessels in your sinuses becoming inflamed or swollen. This swelling blocks the nasal passages, meaning it is more difficult for mucus to drain. During an infection, mucus production is increased, which makes the congestion worse. Sinus swelling usually occurs due to viruses like cold and flu which could lead to a sinus infection, known as sinusitis. The swelling that causes a blocked nose can also be a response to an allergen or hay fever.

If you’re suffering from a cold or flu, the following blocked nose and congestion symptoms tend to occur:

  • The nose lining becomes inflamed and swollen

  • This causes the nasal passages to become narrower and therefore more easily blocked up

  • Excess mucus builds up in the nasal passages, making it more difficult to breathe through the nose

Your sinuses form a network of passageways and chambers that connect your nasal passages to help drainage and airflow. The main sinuses are found:

  • Alongside your nose

  • Around your eyes, near your forehead

  • At the bridge of your nose

  • Behind your eyes

Most people think a blocked nose is caused by an excess of mucus, thanks to the runny nose that often accompanies that familiar stuffy feeling. In fact, all that extra mucus is a symptom of your infection rather than the cause.

If your blocked nose lasts for longer than 10 days, it might be worth seeing your GP as it could be a sign of an underlying medical problem such as:

  • Chronic sinusitis

  • A deviated septum

  • Chemical exposure or environmental irritants

  • Nasal polyps or other noncancerous growths.

Blocked nose at night

When you're struggling with a stuffy nose, it's common for your symptoms to feel worse at night. There are many reasons why a blocked nose at night can be more irritating:

  • Lying down to sleep causes mucus to pool at the back of your throat and increases the blood flow to your already swollen blood vessels.

  • Your immune system becomes more active at night, causing your body to produce more mucus.

  • You have no distractions, so you focus more on the sensations of your body – including your blocked nose.

For some blocked nose relief to try and improve your night's sleep, you can try:

  • Sleeping with your head propped up on an extra pillow

  • Inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water

  • Keeping your bedroom cool and well ventilated

  • Using a humidifier in the bedroom

  • Taking a nasal decongestant before bed

How long does a blocked nose last?

A blocked nose should last no more than seven to 10 days before getting better. If your symptoms last longer than a couple of weeks, it might be a sign of an underlying issue. You should contact your GP if you:

  • Have a blocked nose for more than 10 days

  • Experience a consistent fever lasting more than three days alongside your blocked nose

  • Suffer from asthma, emphysema or have a weakened immune system

  • Encounter nasal pain or green discharge from your nose.

How to unblock a nose

Whatever causes your blocked nose, there are several things you can try to unblock it – from home remedies to over-the-counter options like the SUDAFED® decongestant range. Here are some of our top tips for how to clear a blocked nose:

1. Steam inhalation

Fill a bowl with hot, steaming water and place it on a sturdy table. Then sit with your head over the bowl and breathe normally for 10-15 minutes, inhaling the steam. This should help open up your airways and reduce inflammation, easing your blocked nose.

2. Use a humidifier

A humidifier converts water to moisture, gradually increasing the humidity in a room. The moisture in the air can soothe the irritation and swelling of the blood vessels in your nose and sinuses, helping to relieve your blocked nose. Humidifiers can also help thin the mucus in your sinuses, making it easier for the fluids to drain from your nose so you can breathe easier.

3. Take a hot shower

Like using a bowl of hot water, the steam from a hot shower can help reduce the inflammation in your nasal passages and thin out some of the thicker mucus.

4. Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated can help thin out the thick mucus created by your body's immune system. This should make it easier to drain the mucus, leaving your nose feeling more comfortable as it reduces the pressure in your sinuses.

5. Nasal sprays

Nasal sprays such as SUDAFED® Blocked Nose Spray provide fast and effective blocked nose relief by reducing the swelling in your sinuses and nasal passages. They can also help improve the flow of air and mucus, reducing the pressure in your sinuses so you can breathe through your nose easier. Plus, the spray is non-drowsy, so you can take it any time of day without affecting your ability to get things done.

Please read the enclosed leaflet before first using the blocked nose nasal spray

6. Decongestant tablets

SUDAFED® Decongestant Tablets work hard to help unblock your nose and reduce swelling so you can breathe easier. Each tablet contains pseudoephedrine hydrochloride, offering highly effective relief for nose and sinus congestion. The decongestant gets to work by helping narrow swollen blood vessels in the nose, so mucus and air can flow more freely.

7. Decongestant liquids

Our specially formulated decongestant liquids contain pseudoephedrine hydrochloride, which provides effective relief for congested nasal passageways and sinuses. This soothing syrup offers comfort from congestion caused by colds, helping you breathe freely through your nose.

8. A warm compress

Placing a warm compress – such as a face cloth – over your forehead and nose can help unclog a stuffy nose by opening your sinuses from the outside. To make a compress, simply soak a towel or face cloth in warm water.

Squeeze the water out so that it's not dripping and pop it on your forehead and the bridge of your nose. The warmth helps ease the inflammation in your sinuses to reduce swelling and discomfort.

How to ease a stuffy nose rapidly

SUDAFED® Blocked Nose Spray unblocks your nose in 2 minutes and can offer nasal congestion relief for up to 10 hours, thanks to its active ingredient, xylometazoline. This bestselling congestion treatment offers blocked nose relief within minutes.*

*For verification please contact 0808 238 9999

Get blocked nose relief with SUDAFED®

We've been pioneering clinically proven over-the-counter congestion treatments for more than 30 years. They’ve helped treat a wide range of congestion symptoms without a prescription, from a simple blocked nose to sinus pressure and pain.

Find a suitable remedy for your blocked nose from our range of decongestant products.


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