Curing a Stuffy Nose

SELF magazine

Winter knock you off your game? Your favorite M.D., Dr. Lodge, is on the case.

Q. What's the best thing to do for a stuffy nose? -Ruby M., New York City

A. There's no secret formula, so you'll need to try treatments one at a time to see what works for you. Use this backgrounder on some common decloggers; as always, read labels for directions and side effect info.

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Antihistamines: They fight histamines, chemicals that cause congestion and stuffyiness during an infection or allergy attack. Older ones such as Benadryl may make you sleepy, so look for newer formulas marked nondrowsy.

Decongestants: Oral decongestants with pseudoephedrine work to clear you up by shrinking swollen nasal tissues, but they could make you jittery. Nasal sprays are great for occasional relief, but they lose effectiveness with prolonged use.

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Nasal irrigation: Neti pots and the like can help literally wash out congestion. Saline sprays moisten nasal passages and ease inflammation to relieve stuffiness. Both can be used in tandem with most over-the-counter or Rx meds, too.

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Natural cures:
Sprays with capsaicin, the stuff that makes chiles spicy, may clear congestion, but there's not a ton of research to back this up. I say: Natural treatments may work, but use them carefully-too much of anything can hurt you.

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