Read This If You’re All Blocked Up

When I trained for Ironman I made a point of swimming in the morning.

Yes it was easier for me to fit into my day, but I would find that regardless of whether I swam in the pool or the lake, I would always get blocked up and be sneezing or constantly trying to unblock myself for hours afterwards.

Swimming in the morning meant that I had more time to clear my passageways before sleep.

Being congested in this area is uncomfortable to say the least.

It may make it difficult for you to breathe or sleep. It may also cause painful pressure behind your eyes, make your nose run constantly, or cause an annoying cough (or sneeze in my case).

A local swim coach asked me to write this because her swimmers were experiencing these problems and she knew there would be a natural solution.

Some essential oils may clear up the blocked feeling and make it feel more comfortable.

Essential oils have been used for centuries as a natural way to support emotional and physical health. When people become wary about synthetic medications, they often turn to natural remedies such as essential oils.

Over the counter solutions aren’t for everyone and can cause side effects. Just look at the packaging:

  • drowsiness
  • headaches
  • restlessness
  • high blood pressure
  • rapid heart rate

Essential oils are an alternative treatment for a blocked up feeling after swimming.

Some oils may relieve symptoms, such as:

  • feeling blocked up
  • inflammation
  • throat irritation

Oils That May Help

Oils you may like to try are:

Tea Tree

This oil has a number of properties that can help if you are suffering after swimming.

The Aboriginal people have harvested and used the leaves and bark of Tea Tree for centuries, citing incredible antiseptic and healing properties. Captain James Cook took it back to Europe and it was commonplace before the discovery of penicillin.


According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) the main component of eucalyptus,, 1,8 cineole, helps clear the air of bacteria and other microbes. It can also help keep airways clear.

This oil was used during the world wars to help soldiers stay more resilient.


The main compound in peppermint oil is menthol, which is found in many over the counter remedies.

Menthol has been used for more than 2000 years as a health tonic and remedy. Its potency and mildly sedative properties make it perfect for after a swim.


Apart from being great on pizza, Oregano oil has so many amazing properties that you will be glad you have it when you need it. As well as helping you post-swim it’s also handy when your toenails are looking yucky or you have itchiness between your toes.

It was first used in ancient Greece to treat infection and in food to protect from bacteria.

There are a lot of things I would like to put in this post about oregano (and other oils) but due to regulations in New Zealand, which I have to adhere to in order to remain compliant, I cannot! All I will say is that you should google it!

One thing I can say is that if you are using this oil on your skin then you should dilute with a carrier oil as it is a “hot” oil and can tingle.


At the first sign of sinus discomfort, incorporating lavender essential oil into your daily routine is important. Whether inhaling the aroma directly from the bottle, applying to various points on the body, steaming, or diffusing, its many beneficial properties act like a balm to the lungs and can ease congestion.


Lemon essential oil is another fairly astringent and highly stimulating remedy for sinus issues. Extracted from the lemon rind through a process of cold pressing, this highly effective oil supports the respiratory and lymphatic systems by helping the body break down and release mucus and relieve congestion.

In addition to this, lemons have other strong properties (google or refer  to an essential oils handbook).

Lemon essential oil is very versatile and can be used daily in a number of ways. At the first sign of sinus discomfort rub 2-5 drops of lemon oil, mixed with your favourite carrier oil in a 1:1 ratio, on the chest and throat. Repeat this several times throughout the day.

This oil can be added to hot water and when mixed with honey and helps soothe upper respiratory issues, such as congestion and sore throat.

One of the most effective methods of delivery for lemon essential oil is via a diffuser or direct steam.

How to use essential oils to relieve congestion

The best way to use essential oils to relieve a stuffy nose is through inhalation. You can inhale oils in a number of ways.

Steam inhalation involves combining essential oils with hot water to create therapeutic steam

Adding 1-2 drops of essential oil to hot water in a large pot or heatproof bowl. Use a towel to cover your head, and breathe through your nose for no more than two minutes at a time. Keep your eyes closed to prevent eye irritation.

Direct inhalation refers to inhaling the essential oil right from the bottle. You may also add a drop of oil to a handkerchief, cotton ball, or inhaler tube, and breathe it in.

Diffusers disperse essential oils throughout the air, allowing them to dilute before being inhaled. This is a less potent method of inhalation.

For an aromatherapy bath, add a few drops of diluted essential oil to your bathwater (add to a tablespoon of milk first to allow dispersal into the water).

For an aromatherapy massage, add a few drops of essential oil to your favourite massage lotion or massage oil.

If you have congestion, make sure you eat a healthy diet. Avoid dairy, chocolate, and processed foods as much as possible. They may increase mucus production.

Make sure you’re drinking enough fluids to help thin your nasal mucus.


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