When a stuffy nose hits, it feels like breathing clearly and easily may never come again. Allergies, colds, and even changes in weather can leave our sinuses blocked, with medicine seeming like the only option. But don't break out the medication just yet — relieving the pressure of a stuffy nose, a stuffy head, and stuffy ears can be as easy as touching a pressure point.
Before you attempt to cure your stuffy nose and pressurized head, it's good to know what's causing you such discomfort.
According to WebMD, when our heads fill with fluid and blockages are created, affecting our breathing, hearing, and mental clarity, it all begins in the nose. When we feel stuffed up, it's likely that the membranes inside our nose are inflamed and irritated. In response to whatever it is that flooded our lymphatic system with fluid, our nasal passages start producing increased amounts of mucus as they try to flush out the source of irritation.
So, when you need to clear your sinuses, it's important to remember that they're already inflamed. This means it's crucial to keep them lubricated and moist rather than to eliminate the mucus and dry everything out. Your runny, snotty nose needs that moisture.
When we turn to nose-clearing cold and allergy remedies, we often look for pills that can make all that mucus disappear. Those same pills can dry out the sinuses and create more pain. Instead of going straight to the medicine bottle, you can first try to move the fluid out of the head using acupressure.
Reddit user gymfork points out that by placing pressure on specific points of the body, we can stimulate the flow of fluid and get our noses breathing clearly — and one of the best locations for sinus problems is in our mouths.
Gymfork suggests pushing the tongue flat against the roof of the mouth, while simultaneously pushing a finger against the skin between the eyebrows. Hold pressure against these points for 20 seconds, and you'll begin to feel relief from your symptoms. Once you release your tongue and soften your finger, you'll start to feel movement towards the back of the throat as the pressure diminishes.
If that doesn't work for you, alternate between pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth and pressing between your eyebrows. In acupressure, the point between your eyebrows is called the Yintang acupoint, right where the nasion is located, according to Dr. Joseph M. Helms, president of Helms Medical Institute and author of Acupuncture Energetics: A Clinical Approach for Physicians.
This "causes the vomer bone (which runs through the nasal passages to the mouth) to rock back and forth," therefore loosening congestion and causing drainage, according to Lisa DeStefano, D.O., author of Greenman's Principles of Manual Medicine.
If you feel your stuffed sinuses climbing up into the higher reaches of your head, you might want to try a different pressure point to clear both the nose and the upper sinuses.
Massage therapist Amber Lynn Vitale explains that by moving across the eyebrows, you can encourage the movement of "stuck" fluid.
Place your fingers at the beginning of each eyebrow, close to the center where they don't meet, and lean forward, with your head resting on your fingers and your elbows on a flat surface. After a few seconds, when you feel the pressure shift, slide your fingers to the middle of each eyebrow.
Hold there until you once again feel a slight lightness, and then move your fingers to the end of each brow. Here, Vitale suggests either holding a steady pressure or running your fingertips in tiny circles to stimulate the flow of fluid away from the forehead. Once things get flowing, you'll feel the pressure in the center of your head disperse.
Massages do wonders for the rest of our bodies, so why not try a mini-massage when you feel a "knot" of sinus pressure building in your head? According to massage therapist Heather Wibbels, you can pull fluid from the head with a few quick rubs.
Use your fingertips to push firmly against the notch of your collarbone repeatedly to get the fluid moving downwards. According to Wibbels, you'll know the process is working when you feel a need to clear your throat — and your ears might also suddenly open up when the pressure releases.
If this is uncomfortable, Wibbels also suggests a different method. Crossing your hands, you can make a "V" shape and use the same pumping motion on the sides of your neck to get the lymph fluid to release. Both this action and the fingertip pulses create suction in the lymphatic system, which vacuums the fluid residing in your sinuses downward and away from the head.
Read the Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Massage to learn more about therapeutic massage.
No matter what has your sinuses stuffed and blocked up, the easiest and quickest course of action isn't turning to your medicine cabinet. With a little pressure on the right points and even the use of your tongue, you can draw the problematic fluid from its source of blockage and clear all of your head's senses.
If allergies are bothering you, try rinsing with a neti pot, which not only pushes pressure into your sinuses but keeps them moist and removes any allergens like pollen or animal dander that has built up in there. Try this sinus rinse kit or try a ceramic or stainless steel neti pot. Just make sure you use bottled or boiled water when rinsing.
Want to learn more about acupressure? Check out Yumi's illustrated guide on relieving mental and physical stress using acupoints. For more in-depth information, check out Acupressure's Potent Points: A Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments.
For more cold relief, check out these home remedies for relieving common cold symptoms (and preventing them in the first place).