Can what you eat and drink affect your blocked nose?

Find out what food and drink might ease or worsen your blocked nose.

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Immune System Expert
Ask Dr. Jen Tan

09 March 2018

Why is my nose blocked?

The mucous membranes of the nose and pharynx usually produce a small amount of fluid and mucus. However, during inflammation (which usually means a cold or flu), this fluid gets thicker and production increases. As a result of this, the nose can become blocked or congested – a symptom that is both frustrating and uncomfortable as you are probably aware! 

What Food and Drinks Should You Avoid?

Dairy Products

You’ll probably be aware that phlegm is a type of mucus (otherwise known as snot). Most of the time phlegm manages to protect the body by preventing germs and harmful materials from entering the airways and causing infection. However, when we do catch a cold or infection the mucus becomes thicker and it is this that gives you that blocked-up feeling. 

So, why should you avoid milk at this time? Well, milk won’t, as has sometimes been suggested, make you produce more mucus, but it can make phlegm thicker and thus more unpleasant.  Therefore, until your symptoms ease, it might be best to stick to toast for breakfast rather than milky porridge or cereal. Whilst you’re ill you could even try an alternative to dairy such as almond  or soya milk – you never know, you might even find you enjoy this little change! 

If you’re suffering from other cold and flu symptoms alongside your blocked nose, you could have a look at our blog ‘foods to avoid if you’ve got a cold or flu’. This provides lots of information about what to steer clear of when you’re poorly. 


With a blocked nose you probably won’t feel like going out for a drink or ending your day with a bottle of wine but, regardless, you should be aware of the effects of alcohol when you’re sick. Alcohol can dehydrate the body and this, in turn, can make congestion worse.  Your nasal problems shouldn’t last more than a couple of weeks so we’d recommend you just avoid alcohol during this time. Make sure you drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated instead!

Food and Drinks That Might Help


We’re not suggesting you order a vindaloo curry at your local takeaway or add hot sauce to every meal but spice, in moderation, can be beneficial for your blocked nose. 

Spicy sauces and foods get their heat from capsaicin, a compound found inside chilli peppers. As you’ve probably experienced yourself, hot foods can make your nose itchy or run and it is this compound that causes this effect. So, if your nose is feeling a bit stuffy, spice, as a result of capsaicin, could break up mucus to leave you feeling less congested – have your tissues at the ready though for when your nose begins to run!

The best way to include spice in your diet, and therefore help your blocked nose, would be to incorporate it into a healthy dinner recipe. Our Spicy Bean Hotpot is perfect for warming you up when you’re feeling poorly! It is crammed full of vegetables and flavour, plus there’s loads of protein, fibre, minerals and vitamins to support your immune system and help get you back to full health. The recipe also gives you the option to add as many or as few chillies as you like so, if you like it hotter, then add as many as you like!

Our blog ‘the best foods for a cold or flu’, provides further information on foods to help you through a bout of illness.


Believe it or not, as well as being great for your body overall, water can actually help with a blocked nose. By keeping your body hydrated, water makes mucus thinner which causes the nose to run. This, in turn, will ease a blocked nose to leave you feeling more comfortable. You could add in chopped fruit such as lemon and cucumber if you fancy a little bit more flavour.

As well as drinking lots of water to help your congestion, it’s also a good idea to drink warm liquids. This can relieve the pressure on your sinuses and will soothe the problems that usually accompany a blocked nose such as a sore throat. The Echinaforce Hot Drink is a really good option because this herbal remedy helps to fight cold and flu symptoms. It’s made from fresh Echinacea and black elderberry which means, as well as being really effective, it has a pleasant and fruity taste. 

Alternatively, you could just swap your regular tea or coffee for some herbal tea to see you through your illness. With so much choice available in terms of flavour, you can pick whatever takes your fancy.  Peppermint tea contains menthol which cools a sore throat but can also break down mucus to help your nose.  Alternatively, Jan deVries’ Refreshing Dutch Herbal Tea  uses a traditional recipe containing many different herbs that will further relieve nasal problems.  

Citrus Fruit

In general, citrus fruits are a perfect choice when you’re feeling under the weather. That’s because these fruits contain vitamin C which helps boost the immune system.  However, more unusually, there is also evidence to suggest that these kinds of fruits are helpful when your nose is blocked.  Pineapple for example, may loosen mucus to ease congestion. So, it sounds like you’ll be getting one of your five a day and helping your blocked nose! 

As well as taking care to eat things like oranges and grapefruits when you’re ill, you could try some drinks that incorporate these fruits too. A warm lemon and honey drink for example, will help soothe symptoms of a cold, such as a blocked nose. Plus, the heat from the drink may loosen up the mucus from your nose to help with congestion. So, it seems this is a classic and well-known cold treatment for good reason! 

If you’d like some more information on the drinks that could help this kind of illness, have a glance at our blog ‘the best drinks to cure your cold’.


This one might surprise you but it is a valuable option when it comes to foods that might help a blocked nose! The chemical compounds (or polyphenols) in ginger help to discharge mucus and so again, this eases the problem of congestion. 

To benefit from this special compound, you could add a little fresh ginger to some hot water for a soothing drink. Or, if you prefer, add it to a recipe such as a stir fry. We all know that our taste is affected by a cold so not only will this add some much-needed flavour, it will also help your blocked nose!


Steam is known to be an effective remedy for a blocked nose because it softens and breaks down mucus so that it can flow more easily from the nose. Therefore, the heat from a bowl of hot soup should help to ease congestion. Plus, a homemade soup is packed full of nutrients to help you get over a cold quickly so it’s a win-win situation! 

Our website contains a whole variety of healthy soup recipes so you should be able to find something there that takes your fancy! One of my favourites is the Spicy Butternut Squash Soup because it is thick and creamy and so is incredibly comforting when you’re under the weather. Also, this recipe contains fresh chillies which, as we’ve discussed, also helps ease congestion.

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Other Treatments

If you’re feeling congested, as well as looking closely at your food and drink intake, you will probably want to try an effective treatment as well. 

When your nose is blocked and you’re finding it hard to breathe, Sinuforce Nasal Spray is a great option! It contains two important ingredients to help your symptoms. Firstly, the inclusion of menthol eucalyptus helps to break down mucus and relieve your nasal problems. Secondly, it contains chamomile which, as well as being incredibly soothing, helps improve the flow of air through the nose.  

Other nasal sprays tend to work by constricting the blood vessels within the nose and so they cannot be used by people with high blood pressure or heart problems. Plus, this also means they can be damaging to the nose if used long term. Contrastingly, Sinuforce has none of these restrictions or problems and can instead be used for up to thirty days – it can even be used by those with high blood pressure or heart problems. 

However, it’s not just these things that make Sinuforce stand out! This product is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, as well as pregnant women, and those breastfeeding too. So, with this product being accessible and highly effective, it’s a great choice to help treat a blocked nose.

Sinuforce Nasal Spray - Blocked nose remedy

Sinuforce - For the relief of nasal catarrh, nasal congestion and a runny nose.
More info

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Here’s what I recommend

As the A. Vogel Immune System expert, I recommend Sinuforce Nasal Spray with menthol, to help ease symptoms of a blocked nose.

Learn more

Did you know?

Pregnancy can make you more susceptible to a blocked nose. Hormonal changes can cause the delicate tissues of your nose to become inflamed, restricting the flow of air and causing you to experience a blocked nose.

What's causing my blocked nose at night?

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