You can try a couple methods. The easiest is taking a long shower every day that you’re sick, which you’re probably doing anyway. But crank the knob so it’s hotter than usual: If your mirror fogs up, it’s steamy enough to clear your nasal package, Dr. Parikh says.
If you’ve got some time to kill, boil a pot of water and stand directly over it, inhaling the steam for up to 30 minutes.
2. Start the Right Nasal Spray, Stat
Over-the-counter sprays can help decrease and treat underlying inflammation, helping cure your congestion instead of just providing brief relief, says Dr. Parikh.
The only bummer: Fast-acting sprays like Afrin and oxymetazoline are potentially addictive, and can actually make your congestion come back worse if you use them too often.
So opt for Nasacort or Flonase, which take at least 7 days to kick in, but boast the best combination of safety and effectiveness, Dr. Parikh says.
3. Take an Allergy Pill
While you’re waiting for the sprays to work, consider popping an allergy pill like Zyrtec, Claritin, or Allegra, suggests Dr. Parikh. Even if your sniffles aren’t from hay fever or pollen, the antihistamine component in these meds still works to dry up your snot.
Just skip the kind of medicine with a “D” after it. Some decongestants, like Sudafed, have that same potential addictiveness and congesting-worsening properties as short-term nasal sprays.
Decongestants can also dehydrate, keeping your mucus thick, Dr. Lane says.