The No-Nonsense Guide to Congestion Remedies

Cold season means nasal congestion, and nasal congestion means mouth breathing until you no longer want to live. I’ve been congested to varying degrees for the better part of the last month, and have tried everything. Here are my personal reviews of some tried and not-so-true methods to kick nasal congestion to the curb. If only life were a Mucinex commercial.

I have a theory. The companies that manufacture decongestants like Sudafed and Mucinex give them like 30 percent of the juice they actually need to work. Seriously—rely on these at your peril. You need to mix a few other things into your regimen.

Snort ‘N Swallow
This can give you ear pain and possibly infections, but when you blow and nothing will move, this is an option. Sounds gross, looks gross, but you’re sick, not trying to hook up at a bar.

Gargling Apple Cider Vinegar
This is the best option to make your apartment smell like several species of animals just died in it. The acid in it naturally kills bacteria, but there’s a decent chance it’ll also kill your vibe. Doesn’t work that well and tastes way worse.

Neti Pot
The only people who like Neti Pot are sadistic animals, but hey, it works. Make sure to thoroughly rinse the pot before and after usage, if only to wash away the shame of staring at yourself in the mirror while you pour warm saline into your nostrils.

Saline Nasal Spray
This is a Neti Pot in a pressurized bottle. Comes with less moving parts/general embarrassment, but also doesn’t work as well. Life is a series of tradeoffs.

Steroid/Allergy Nasal Sprays
It’s no surprise these work—they’re filled with steroids. But they’re easy to get hooked on and only do the job for a couple days. Use them for any longer and you’ll be battling one of the modern world’s silliest addictions.

This Indian spice has natural anti-inflammatory properties. Spoon some into hot water for a makeshift tea. Some people claim it’s the cure for the common cold scientists have been searching for. I don’t know about that, but I do know it stained every mug in my cabinet.

Ginger & Lemon Tea
A tried and true classic. Any hot tea is good for you, but ginger’s health benefits are legion. Be careful how much lemon you add, of course—I added an entire fruit’s worth of juice into one cup of tea and instantly turned into a WarHeads commercial.

Hot Shower
Talk about amateur hour. If you’re feeling sick, yeah, you should take a hot, steamy shower. But anyone who’s been congested more than zero times in your life knows this is no way to get rid of it. You’re better off with …

A Big Pot O’ Water
Get a big pot. Fill it about halfway with water. Dump a whole bunch of essential oils, especially eucalyptus oil. Bring the water to a boil, grab a towel, and prop yourself over that puppy to breathe in the fumes.