Mucus is thick, sticky, and very unpleasant, but it is actually quite useful and plays a vital function in the human body. Mucus lines the nose, sinuses, mouth, lungs, throat, and the gastrointestinal tract and lubricates the walls of these body parts and removes the unwanted materials before they get the chance to enter the body. Mucus also contains enzymes and antibodies that help the brain recognize the unwanted substances and get rid of bacteria and viruses.
Even though it is generally useful, mucus is quite disgusting and can be produced in excess when you have an infection of the sinuses and respiratory organs, when you have the flu or a common cold, and when allergies strike in the spring. When you have a sinus infection, also known as sinusitis and rhinosinusitis, that inflammation can prevent the drainage of the sinuses, which causes mucus to build up and cause troubles when breathing and headaches. Naturally, the first thing you should think about is solving the issue that caused this build up, there are a plethora of natural remedies that can help you dry up the mucus and make your life easier.
Blow Your Nose
This one may be obvious, but blowing your nose properly will prevent additional problems. Make sure to blow only one nostril at a time and to blow gently to prevent the breakage of blood vessels. Also, blowing too hard can cause tiny openings and the bacteria and other unwanted substances can actually be sucked in them and go further up your nose. Always use clean tissues and make sure to wash your hands properly when you finish preventing the bacteria from spreading.
Drink Plenty of Liquids
When you suffer from sinus congestion, drinking enough water and other hot liquids is crucial. Warm drinks will give you comfort and help the mucus become thinner and leave your body sooner. Warm water with lemon, herbal teas, and even decaf coffee will loosen the mucus in your chest and help you feel better. Also, you can try eating warm soup and pineapple, as the bromelain in pineapple and the menthol in the tea can help you with coughing. However, steer clear of alcoholic and caffeinated drinks, as they can dehydrate your body and make the mucus matter even worse.
Steam Your Face
If you do this, you will not only clear up your pores and get rid of the dirt on your face, but you will also loosen up the phlegm and the mucus which will leave your body substantially quicker. Inhaling steam has been a famous therapy for thousands of years and it is completely safe for use.
To make a steam remedy, boil a pot of water and stir in two tablespoons of dried or fresh herbs, for example, thyme, mint, rosemary, eucalyptus, or lavender. Take a big towel, place your head in the bowl or a pot with hot water, and cover your head and the pot with a towel. Breathe in for about 10 minutes. You can do this several times a day, every day until you feel better.
An alternative to this is to take steamy showers twice a day as you will get a similar effect. Additionally, you can use a humidifier in your house to help you get better sooner. Make sure to keep the humidifier clean at all times, because the bacteria and molds that can develop on and in it can make your condition even worse.
To loosen the mucus, even more, you can use a warm compress which will help dilute the mucus and make its release easier. To do this, you can use a simple washcloth that you will drain with warm water. You can also put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Lay the washcloth over your nose, cheeks, and eyes, and leave on for about three minutes. You can repeat this several times a day for best results.
Essential oils can be very useful when it comes to mucus drainage. You can use several oils for this purpose:
- Tea tree oil which has antiseptic, antimicrobial, and expectorant properties
- Eucalyptus – antiviral, decongestant, and antiseptic benefits
- Thyme oil, which is great for fighting the colds and the flu and has antiseptic properties
- Rosemary oil helps open up the nasal passages and has antiseptic properties
- Lavender oil, a great antihistamine and has antimicrobial properties
- Basil oil, a fantastic antiseptic
- Pine oil – an excellent decongestant with antimicrobial properties
- Chamomile oil which relieves the pain and helps with the congestion
To use essential oils for mucus, add a few drops to an oil diffuser or the oil burner and let them fill your room with amazing scent. You can also add a few drops of oil to a hot bath and soak in it for about 20 minutes. Additionally, you can sprinkle a few drops of the oil of your choice on your pillow and get rid of the mucus as you sleep.
Elevate Your Pillows
Adding a couple of pillows under your head when you sleep can help the congested nasal passages and help you sleep better. If you sleep like this, you will let the gravity do the work for you and let the mucus drain from your sinuses and nose easier. If you move a lot when you sleep, try to put an additional pillow under your mattress so you would not kick it out of the bed when you catch your Z’s.
Over-the-counter Nasal Spray
You can get a simple nasal spray or a corticosteroid spray that you can spray directly into your nose. These sprays will narrow the blood vessels in your nose and reduce the swelling of the sinuses. By doing this, they help prevent the mucus production and make the drainage much easier. Beware, unlike regular over-the-counter nasal sprays, if you want to use a corticosteroid one you will need a prescription from your doctor.
You can irrigate your nasal passages with a special contraption used just for this called a neti pot or a bulb syringe. With this method, you will force the solution (usually water or a simple saline) up your nostril to loosen up the buildup of mucus which will then drain through the other nostril. If you decide to do this, make sure to use a sterile solution and to clean your irrigator properly after each use. Do not do this often, though, as irrigating too frequently can actually damage the inside of your nose and strip the natural substances that keep your nose moist and that fight further infections.
As always, eating a healthy diet will help your body feel good and make the fight against the infections much more effective. Steer clear of foods rich in sodium, stay away from meat and refined carbohydrates, and opt for an abundance of fruit and vegetables. Avoid dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, white bread, white rice, pastries, cakes, sodas, milk chocolate, alcohol, and coffee. Instead, eat a lot of hot soups, drink plenty of water, and eat heaps of beans and lentils, fruits and vegetables, wholegrain pasta, bread, and rice, and spice up your dishes with garlic and other spices.