Having a stuffy nose is common during pregnancy, just like morning sickness or backaches.
A stuffy nose can be a real nuisance, especially if it makes it difficult for you to get much-needed sleep.
About 39 percent of pregnant women suffer from pregnancy rhinitis, according to a 2013 report published in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology.
Most ailments were found during the 13th and 21st weeks of gestation. The study also notes that pregnancy rhinitis significantly affects the quality of life of pregnant women and, as a result, it may affect fetal development .
During pregnancy, hormonal changes take place within the body. Extra estrogen produced during pregnancy can cause the nasal passages to become swollen or inflamed, giving the feeling of having a stuffy nose.
Additionally, the increase in blood volume during pregnancy can inflame the tiny blood vessels in your nose.
The feeling of a stuffy or congested nose during pregnancy is known as pregnancy rhinitis. It can start as early as the second month of your pregnancy and will usually worsen later in your pregnancy.
Generally, pregnancy rhinitis will not cause other symptoms apart from a stuffy, itchy or runny nose. The symptoms tend to be worse for those suffering from chronic sinusitis.
However, if you have a sore throat or fever along with a stuffy nose, it could be related to allergies or the common cold. In such cases, see your doctor.
Pregnancy rhinitis needs to be treated or it can cause sleep disorders. Good sleep is essential for the health of the mother as well as the unborn baby.
A 2009 study published in Obstetric Medicine found that rhinitis during pregnancy could potentially increase the risk of sleep disordered breathing in pregnant women .
Fortunately, there is nothing to worry about if you have pregnancy rhinitis. There are many ways to relieve the symptoms of a stuffy nose. And pregnancy rhinitis will go away after you have your baby, usually within two weeks after delivery.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for pregnancy rhinitis.
1. Saline Water Irrigation
You can use saline solution, or salt water, to help clear your nose. In fact, it should be one of the first steps to treat pregnancy rhinitis.
Salt water will help thin the mucus, making it easier and more comfortable to expel. It will also help clear the nasal passages of irritants.
A 2009 study published in American Family Physician reports that consensus guidelines consider saline nasal irrigation to be safe and possibly effective for mild to moderate rhinitis during pregnancy and acute rhinosinusitis, although no clinical trials have assessed it for these indications .
- Boil 1 cup of water and set it aside to cool down.
- Add ½ teaspoon of salt to the water.
- Using a dropper, put a few drops of the solution into one nostril with your head tilted back.
- Inhale very gently to draw the solution further into your nasal passages.
- Blow your nose to remove excess mucus and solution.
- Repeat the process with the other nostril.
- Do this a couple of times each day.
You can also use a neti pot instead of the dropper.
2. Steam Inhalation
Steam is also an effective home remedy for pregnancy rhinitis. It helps clear out excess mucus that causes a stuffy nose.
In fact, steam inhalation provides quick relief from nasal congestion, and lets you breathe better.
- Pour boiling water into a big bowl.
- Add 3 or 4 drops of eucalyptus essential oil.
- Cover your head with a towel and lean carefully over the bowl.
- Deeply inhale the steam for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Blow your nose gently.
- Repeat a few times a day.
A hot shower or bath will also have a similar effect.
3. Warm Compress
For quick relief from a stuffy or blocked nose during pregnancy, you can use warm compresses.
Applying a warm compress on the nose will help thin the mucus, so it drains smoothly from your nose.
The warmth from the compress also helps reduce inflammation in the nostrils.
- Soak a towel in a bowl of hot water.
- Squeeze the excess water out of the towel.
- Fold it and place it over your nose and forehead.
- Repeat as often as necessary.
Another good remedy for pregnancy rhinitis is ginger.
Ginger contains anti-inflammatory agents that help reduce inflammation in the nasal passages and loosen up the mucus.
It also works as a natural antihistamine and has immune-boosting properties. Plus, it helps keep the body warm.
There are several ways you can use ginger. Choose what suits you best.
- Add 1 tablespoon of grated ginger to 1 cup of water. Boil it for 5 minutes, strain and add a little honey and lemon juice. Drink this herbal tea up to 3 times daily.
- Alternatively, you can chew a small piece of ginger sprinkled with a little sea salt a few times a day.
Note: Do not consume ginger in excess during pregnancy. Also, ginger may not be suitable for those with a history of miscarriage or vaginal bleeding during pregnancy.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Another good remedy for a stuffy nose during pregnancy is apple cider vinegar.
It works as a natural decongestant that helps break up congested mucus and provides excellent relief from a blocked, stuffy nose. Also, it is good for the immune system.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of raw honey into a cup of warm water. Drink this 2 times a day.
- Also, pour equal amounts of water and raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a pan. Bring this mixture to a boil, cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam. Do this 2 or 3 times a day or as needed.
6. Homemade Chicken Soup
Eating a few bowls of homemade chicken soup can help relieve the irritating symptoms of a stuffy nose during pregnancy.
Chicken soup improves the immune system functioning and even prevents infections of the upper respiratory tract. The steam from hot chicken soup also helps open the blocked nasal passages.
Plus, chicken soup is a light and nutritious food for a pregnant woman.
To reap the benefits of chicken soup, make some at home using organic chicken and vegetables, such as carrots, beetroots and spinach. Avoid the canned varieties completely.
7. Massage Therapy
To soothe a blocked nose and improve breathing, massaging the nostrils is a very effective treatment.
Massage helps increase circulation to the area and reduce inflammation in the nasal passages. This in turn thins the mucus and makes breathing better.
- Gently rub some warm olive or coconut oil on your nose.
- Using your left thumb and index finger, apply slight pressure at the bridge of the nose and the eye sockets for about 20 seconds.
- Then release the pressure.
- Repeat the cycle 5 to 7 times.
- Follow this process a few times daily.
Note: When performing this massage, breathe through your mouth, not your nose.
Using a humidifier to adjust the humidity in your house, especially in the room where you sleep, can provide a quick, easy way to get rid of stuffy nose.
Running a humidifier will help keep your nasal passages moist, which helps keep the mucus loose so you can easily cough it out or blow it out.
Using a humidifier to add moisture to the room while you sleep will help you sleep better, which is very important for you and the baby in your womb.
Be sure to clean the humidifier accordingly and change the water daily so that bacteria does not grow.
9. Elevate Your Head
Sleeping with your nose above the level of your heart will allow gravity to do its work and help drain the mucus. Also, it will be easier for you to enjoy sound sleep. Hence, it is recommended to keep your head elevated while sleeping.
To do so, you can elevate the head of your bed by putting an extra blanket under the mattress. Raising the bed frame at the head end with blocks will also work.
You can also use extra pillows to raise your head while sleeping.
10. Stay Hydrated
To treat a blocked or stuffy nose, it is important to keep your body hydrated.
Water intake will help thin the mucus in your sinuses, making it easier to drain. Once the body gets rid of the mucus, you will get relief from the stuffy nose.
Drinking enough fluid also helps maintain a high blood volume in the body, which is important for the health of the growing fetus.
Apart from water, you can also have fluids like herbal tea, water with lemon, sparkling mineral water, organic fruit juices or broth.
However, try to cut down on caffeine and caffeinated drinks to avoid dehydration.
- You can also rub Vicks VapoRub on your nose to help open your nasal passages so that you can breathe easier.
- Do not take any form of medication, including an over-the-counter decongestant, without talking to your doctor.
- It is best to avoid taking any medications during your first trimester because that’s when your baby’s organs are forming.
- Avoid overuse of nasal spray decongestants, as this can actually make your congestion much worse.
- Avoid irritants that may make your stuffy nose worse like cigarette smoke, strong-smelling perfumes or fragrant household cleaners.
- To blow your nose more effectively, hold one nostril closed while gently blowing your nose.
- Nasal strips placed on the nose can also help open up congested airways.
- Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep to help the body heal.
- Increase vitamin C in your diet to reduce the chances of nose bleeds.
- Light exercises or brisk walks can also help clear nasal congestion.
- Rhinitis as a cause of respiratory disorders during pregnancy. Advances in experimental medicine and biology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22826069. Accessed March 17, 2018.
- Sleep disorders in pregnancy. Obstetric Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4989752/. Published September 2009. Accessed March 17, 2018.
- Saline Nasal Irrigation for Upper Respiratory Conditions. American family physician. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2778074/. Published November 15, 2009. Accessed March 17, 2018.