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ACAAI > Patients & Public > Resources > Ask the Allergist

Home Remedy for Nasal Stuffiness?

Q. Due to nasal allergies, at times I have thick nasal mucous that is really bothersome. Is there something I can do that does not involve a prescription for this problem?

A. An easy home remedy that can help with thick mucus in the nose and sinuses is called "saline lavage”, also sometimes called "saline rinse". Saline is essentially salt water. All that is needed: a teaspoon of non-iodized salt, a pinch of baking soda to buffer, a cup of body temperature distilled water and an ear bulb syringe-the same kind used to clear out a baby's nose. (Netipots and other devices can also be used to deliver the same saline solution, but you might wish to discuss with your physician first.) Note: homemade saline solution should be freshly made each time it is used.

Mix the salt and baking soda in the warm water. Squeeze this mixture into the ear bulb syringe, and then GENTLY squirt it up into each nostril. If you sniff it instead, you may experience a burning sensation, although this technique may help loosen some of the mucous. This fluid will then run back out your nose or if your head is tilted back, down the back of your throat. Do this to both sides of the nose, bent over a sink, of course.

As with all things, too much is not a good thing. Unless your physician tells you, it is best to only to “lavage” two (or fewer) times a day.

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