Why Can't You Breathe Through the Nose and How to Handle It

Can't breathe by the nose? Your nose may be congested. Here are 10 tested remedies you can try at home, along with others' real experiences.

One of the most annoying symptoms of cold and flu is nasal congestion. Stuffy nose makes it hard for you to breathe, especially at night. This is common yet annoying, but when do you need to visit a doctor? Many over-the-counter products claim to ease nose congestion, but few are proven effective. Are there any easy and simple home remedies? Read on to learn the hidden culprits and various relieving options for this condition.

Can't Breathe Through Nose, Why?

Nasal congestion or stuffy nose is the most common cause of why you can't breathe through the nose. This is often caused by a cold, flu or sinus infection. And possible causes of prolonged nasal congestion include:

  • Allergies or hay fever
  • Chemical exposure
  • Nasal polyps
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Environmental irritants
  • Tumors in the nasal passages
  • Deviated nasal septum

Pregnant women will also experience the situation in early time of pregnancy. This is because the hormonal changes and increased blood supply affects the nasal membranes. Nasal congestion during pregnancy can also cause drying of the mucosa and nose bleeding.

When to Seek Medical Help

Nasal congestion usually gets better on its own within a few days. However, if symptoms prolong, it is best to see your doctor to get proper evaluation and treatment. Some alarming signs include:

  • Symptoms persist for more than ten days.
  • Your temperature is persistently high (more than three days).
  • You have green nasal discharge accompanied by high fever and sinus pain. These are signs of bacterial infection.
  • You have emphysema or asthma.
  • You are taking medications that suppress the immune system.
  • You have bloody nasal discharge.
  • You have persistent clear nasal discharge after a head injury.

If your child can't breathe through the nose, call the doctor if:

  • He/she has fever and is younger than 2 months old.
  • His/her nasal congestion causes problems nursing or trouble breathing.

How to Relieve This Condition

If you have been stuck in the situation in which you can't breathe through nose, have a try to the following easy to do remedies.

1. Use Humidifiers

A humidifier adds moisture to the air and helps to break mucus in the nose, and soothe nasal inflammation. However, ask your doctor before using humidifiersif you have asthma.

2. Adjust Positions

Prop up your head on a pillow to encourage mucus to drain out of the nasal passages. Also, sleep on your left side and relax your body muscles thoroughly can help with your situation of hard breathe through the nose.

3. Use Saline Spray

Nasal sprays also help to break up mucus and soothe your inflamed nose. Saline spray can be used throughout the day to offer relief. These sprays are safe even for children, but a nasal bulb or aspirator for babies are more commonly used to drain their nose of remaining mucus.

4. Take Medicines

There are certain medications you can use to relieve the nasal congestion. Decongestants, such as phenylephrine, can be applied to treat this condition.

Antihistamine nasal sprays like azelastine, nasal steroids like mometasone or fluticasone can both reduce the congestion. Oral antihistamines such as loratadine and cetirizine can help to treat allergies which are also a culprit of stuffy nose. Additionally, antibiotics can work to treat infections, like sinusitis.

5. Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements can help relieve your symptoms if you take them when you first observe the symptom of congestion or cold. For example, zinc supplements can reduce nasal and throat congestion if you take them within 24 hours of onset of symptoms. Although zinc does not decongest the nasal passages, it can shorten the duration of your congestion and other symptoms. Other helpful dietary supplements including vitamin C, echinacea, and probiotics, can also boost your immune function.

6. Nose Strip and Oil Massage

Try using adhesive nose strips which work by widening your nostrils to help you breathe easier. This can be effective for pregnancy-related nasal congestion. Besides, aromatherapy with eucalyptus or other menthol-based oils like VapoRub are also popularly used to obtain relief of congestion on nose.

7. Avoid Allergens

If you can't breathe through nose, it can also be due to allergens. Exposure to dust mites, pollen, or molds is a common cause. So, just avoid allergens or triggers. Wash your bed sheets often and keep pets out of your bedroom. Also, close your windows and use air conditioning.

8. Avoid Eating and Drinking Before Bedtime

Eating and drinking before bedtime may irritate your stomach and cause foods or liquids to regurgitate or travel back to your throat and nose, causing inflammation and congestion. Avoid eating or drinking (especially alcohol) at least three hours before bedtime.

9. Exercise Regularly

Regular outdoor exercise can both activate your body muscles and nervous system on the nasal area. Exercising stimulates your nervous system to constrict your blood vessels in nose, then reduce nasal congestion, thus allowing you to breathe better through the nose, and at the same time benefitting your heart and your muscles.

10. Specific Treatment Options for Kids

  • Drain nasal secretions with a bulb syringe. Also known as nasal aspiration, it is specifically designed for the baby's tiny nasal structure. Empty the nasal aspiration first and slowly put the tip into the nostril in a proper depth. Then you can drain the mucus by releasing the pressure.
  • Use saline nasal spray. Babies, infant and toddlers can seek relief from the usage of saline nasal spray. It is natural and safe.
  • You can also allow them to inhale steam in the bathroom. This can give the baby a quick relief from nasal congestion.
  • Use cool air humidifier. Heat air humidifier can dry up the air and add up the congestion. Instead, a cool air humidifier alleviates the congestion and prevent occurrence.
  • Elevate the child's crib mattress. Just as the manner of adjusting positions in adults, you can also help you baby with better breath through this method.

Others' Experiences

Nasal Spray for One Nostril Each Time

My doctor advised me to use a nasal spray because I can't breathe through nose. I was afraid of getting addicted to it and rebound swelling, so I used it on one nostril at a time alternately. After several days, my nose cleared up. I also used Claritin D, which also helped reduce my stuffy nose. (From steph_82)

Hot Bath Works Well on Me!

I ran a hot steam bath and stayed in the bathroom until my nasal passages cleared up. I also used a nasal spray every 6 hours. My doctor recommended Zyrtec allergy pills once a day and it really works! (From VBarrick)


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