Saline nasal sprays, a mix of sterile water and salt, work by thinning mucous and soothing nasal inflammation. If used consistently, they may also help rinse out pollen or bacteria that irritate airways. Saline sprays boost moisture and are especially helpful in winter months when the inside of the nose may dry out and be prone to bleeding.
You can buy these sprays in drugstores or make your own by mixing two to three teaspoons of non-iodized salt in a pint of bottled water that is distilled or sterilized, or in boiled water that has been allowed to cool. Then, use a bulb syringe to gently squirt the solution towards the back of your head, rather than upwards. Finally, blow your nose gently. Note: If you have any nasal deformities or problems with the nasal septum, be sure to consult your doctor before using a neti pot or a spray.
Inhaling steam from a hot shower, soup, tea or even a pot of hot water can help to open up and soothe irritated nasal passages. Humidifiers are also good if you need some help breathing at night.
Peppermint contains menthol, which helps to thin mucous and open up nasal passages. Peppermint tea combines the effect of menthol, steam and warm liquid, all of which can help speed clearance of nasal gunk.
Studies suggest that chicken soup may actually decrease mucous production by affecting immune function and inflammation, and the steam and heat will also help. If you're sick, it is also a great way to stay hydrated.