Head congestion occurs when the nose stops up, caused by inflammation of blood vessels in the nasal lining. Pressure builds up in the head, causing painful headaches and clogged, infected ears. This condition makes it difficult for people to breathe, especially when they are trying to sleep. Common colds, hay fever and allergies, the flu, sinus infections, and excessive use of nasal sprays and drops often cause head congestion. Relief for head congestion includes natural remedies, over-the-counter medications and alternative treatments.
Increasing fluid consumption thins mucus in the body, relieving head congestion. Rutgers University Health Services says to double or triple fluid intake to prevent ear infections and bronchitis. In addition to drinking water, chicken soup, bouillon, salty liquids and spicy soups reduce head cold symptoms. The spices open nasal passages, making it easier to breathe. Drinking aromatic teas clear sinus passages when a person is congested. Avoid alcoholic beverages because they act like diuretics, depleting the body’s fluid levels.
Use Steam Treatments
Steam provides head congestion relief. Use a tea kettle, vaporizer or humidifier, and facial steamer to open nasal passages. People can take hot showers or sit in a steamy bathroom to loosen mucus and clear the head. Do these treatments three or four times a day in 10-minute increments. Hot compresses relieve head congestion as well.
Keep Head Elevated
People worsen head congestion symptoms in a reclined position. Elevating the head decreases the symptoms of head congestion and prevents mucus from draining in the back of the throat. At night, sleep in an adjustable chair or use pillow to prop head up to provide nighttime relief. Sleep upright every night until symptoms subside. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says young children benefit from keeping their bodies elevated.
Take Over-the-Counter Medications
Steam treatments and beverages loosen mucus and relieve head congestion, but these treatments don’t address the cause of the condition. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says decongestants decrease inflammation in blood vessels in the nasal lining and relieve stuffiness. They should only be used for three days or congestion gets worse. Antihistamines decrease the amount of mucus produced but cause drowsiness. Because over-the-counter medications treat different symptoms, read the packages carefully before purchasing any of them. Saline nasal sprays also relieve head and nasal congestion.