It’s cold and flu season again, which means there will be a lot of dripping noses. No doubt, a runny nose can be irksome but a clogged nose is hard to ignore. Suddenly, everything becomes more difficult to do: eating, sleeping and even talking. Breathe easy again with these blockage-battling tips:

1. Take a hot shower
Does the water really have to be warm? Yes. The steam from the heat will help thin out the mucus in your nose and ease the inflamed blood vessels in your sinuses that are contributing to your clogged nose. You can also try filling a basin with hot water, placing a towel over your head and putting your head above the basin. Be sure to take deep breaths and be careful not to burn yourself.

2. Use a humidifier
Moisture is what your nose needs to clear up. One easy way to do this is by having a humidifier or vaporizer in the room. These handy machines convert water into moisture that, again, help thin out the mucus in your nose. It will help soothe inflamed blood vessels as well. If you’re treating your child’s stuffy nose, go for a cool-mist humidifier as opposed to a warm-mist machine to prevent accidental burns.

3. Rinse with a neti pot
Don’t mistake it for a teapot. A neti pot is specifically designed to rinse out mucus from the nasal cavity. The pot is filled with a saline solution bought in pharmacies or a saltwater solution made at home. It’s often used to treat symptoms of colds, nasal allergies and sinus problems. It’s safe and very effective.

How it’s used, though, can be a little startling at first as you have to insert the sprout into one nostril, tilt your head to the other side and let the solution flow out of the other nostril. Remember to breathe through your mouth through the whole process, then repeat with the other nostril. Talk to your doctor if you want to try nasal rinsing.

Our editor bought her neti pot at True Value, but it hasn't been available lately (you can try to order it via Amazon). When you ask for a saline solution at pharmacies, they will assume you're asking for a nasal spray (see below), which does a similar job, but a neti pot is still much effective.

4. Drink lots of fluids
It’s important to keep hydrated when you’re sick and losing fluids. Upside, drinking lots of fluids can also help keep your nose from clogging. Keeping hydrated will thin out the mucus in your nasal passages and decrease the pressure in your sinuses. Plus, if you’ve got a sore throat along with your colds, a hot drink will help soothe that too.

5. Use a saline spray
A quick way to find relief is by using a saline spray. Saline sprays are saltwater solutions that increase the moisture in nostrils. They help empty the fluids from the nose and decrease inflammation. They can be bought at your local pharmacy and are safe to use on children. For the very young, saline drops are available too. Talk to your doctor if you’re thinking of trying out saline sprays and drops.

6. Put an extra pillow under your head
Congestion often feels worse at night which can make it very difficult to get a good night sleep. A trick that might just work for you is to put an extra pillow under your head. The inclination will help drain your sinuses. Try and keep the room humid as well so your nose is moisturized -- which prevents clogging -- throughout the night.

7. Trick your brain with vapor rub
If you want a solution fast, grab a tub of vapor rub and apply the ointment on your chest and throat. The strong menthol odor will trick your brain into thinking you’re breathing through an unclogged nose. It doesn’t help thin out mucus or ease inflamed blood vessels though so once the effect wears out you’ll still have a clogged nose to deal with. For children, it should only be applied on the neck and chest of kids under 6 years old and is not recommended for those ages 2 and below.

This article originally appeared on

Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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