Living and Wellness Beat the Sniffles! How to Clear Sinuses and Nose By Ear Nose and Throat, September 27, 2015 The summer heat is finally passing, and the cool fall air is here. Although the weather feels great, we’re back into a new season of allergies and colds. Get a jump start on beating the sniffles and stuffed up noses by keeping your sinuses open and clear, and your nasal passages clean. What Causes Stuffiness? When allergies flare up or a cold hits, you feel a lot of pressure in your nose and sinuses. Mucus buildup isn’t the only reason you get that stuffy head feeling. Allergies and illness can make your sinuses inflamed. They swell up, making it harder for you to breathe in or out and trapping mucus. How Can I Clear Out My Sinuses? The good news is you’ve got a lot of painless options to help you clear the airways this allergy season. Antihistamines, allergy medications, and decongestant nasal sprays all help with ongoing seasonal allergies or stubborn colds. However, many of those are intended for short-term use and can leave you feeling a little foggy. Trying a few natural remedies before your symptoms get too bad can help you prevent colds and keep your nose clear. Humidifier As the weather cools, the air gets drier. A humidifier puts moisture back into the air. It also helps thin the mucus in your nose when you have a cold. They are relatively inexpensive, but they need to be cleaned regularly to avoid mold. Neti pot (nasal irrigation) A Neti pot looks like a tiny teapot. You use it to thin mucus and flush it out of your nasal passages. Nasal irrigation also helps clear allergens and bacteria out of the tiny hair-like structures in your nose. How to use a neti pot To use the pot, fill it with distilled or filtered water and a saline mixture. Most pharmacies sell kits that already have single-use saline mixtures, but it’s easy to make your own with salt and baking soda. Tilt your head, open your mouth to breathe, and pour the water in one nostril. The water flows through your nasal cavity and comes out the other nostril. Gently blow your nose, and repeat on the other side. Using a Neti pot feels a little strange at first, but it doesn’t take long to get used to it. The trick is to make sure you keep your head tilted at the right angle. Otherwise, you’ll get salty water running down the back of your throat. A Neti pot is safe and can be used every day. Steam Similar to a humidifier, steam can help open up your airways. Take a shower, hot bath, or deep breaths over a hot cup of water. You can occasionally try adding a drop of peppermint essential oil and tea tree oil to a steaming cup of water and inhaling a few times to open up the sinuses. Most of these methods can be used daily to keep your nose open throughout this fall allergy season. If you’re having more severe symptoms, however, be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor.