Nasal Congestion: Causes, Treatment, and Remedies
Do you know that Nasal Congestion can occur due to a number of reasons?
Nasal Congestion or stuffy nose is often a symptom of other health conditions like a sinus infection. Moreover, it can also occur due to the common cold.
With the help of certain OTC medications, you can treat nasal congestion, while with some home remedies, you can also treat it at home.
Let’s learn more about it in detail.
Nasal Congestion: Causes
Nasal Congestion is marked by certain factors. These are a stuffy or runny nose, sinus pain, mucus buildup, and swollen nasal tissue.
With the help of home remedies, they can help alleviate nasal congestion.
Especially if it occurs due to the common cold. However, if you experience long-term congestion, you may need medical treatment.
Keep on reading.
Nasal congestion occurs when the blood vessels and mucous membranes in your sinus and nasal passageways swell.While mild congestion often tends to clear on its own, a wide range of treatments and home remedies can help.
Anyone can develop nasal congestion or a stuffy nose at any age, however, it may occur more frequently in some people.
For instance, sinusitis is a condition that frequently causes a stuffy nose.
However, it tends to occur in children under 15 years of age and adults between the age of 25 to 64, particularly adult females.
Causes of a Nasal Congestion
The medical term for inflammation of the sinuses and nasal cavities is “rhinosinusitis”.
There are a number of causes that can lead to congestion and many bear this name.
These are as follows:
Infectious Rhinosinusitis Conditions like common cold virus and upper respiratory infections cause infectious rhinosinusitis.
Allergic Rhinosinusitis This inflammation triggers due to an allergen or environmental irritant, thus, causing an allergy.
Seasonal Allergic Rhinosinusitis Your doctor may diagnose this as a Seasonal Allergy.
Moreover, when this occurs, the inflammation is a response to pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds that are most abundant in the spring and fall.
Perennial Allergic Rhinosinusitis This involves allergens that are present all year.
These include mold, animal dander, dust mites, and cockroach debris.
Nonallergic Rhinosinusitis An inflammation that stems from irritants like smoke, chemicals, and pollution.
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Other Causes of Nasal Congestion
In other cases, nasal congestion is not a response to pathogens, irritants, or allergens.
However, the cause of stuffy nose may be:
Body Positioning Lying down makes it hard for your body to clear the mucus, so may have a reduction in mobility and are more prone to congestion.
Structural Issues within the Sinuses These can include conditions like polyps, septal deviation, narrowing of the passageways, tumors, or an extra pocket.
Health conditions that Reduce mucus Transport Some examples of such health conditions are cystic fibrosis and gallbladder disorder: Biliary Dyskinesia.
In the case of septal deviation, you may experience especially bad congestion.
The septum is a thin wall that separates the left and right nasal airways.
Moreover, a deviation means that the wall is slanted to one side, which can often make breathing through one nostril difficult, even without an allergy or a cold to cause congestion.
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Nasal Congestion in Children
If you as a parent or a caregiver suspects your child and especially your baby have a stuffy nose, it may help to look out for the following signs:
- trouble feeding or reduction in appetite
- increase in fussiness or agitation
- trouble breathing or choking on mucus
- interrupted sleep or trouble falling asleep
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Is it Normal during Pregnancy?
It is important to note that pregnancy-related nasal inflammation is fairly common and doctors term it Pregnancy Rhinitis.
Moreover, it may stem from conditions like obesity, excessive weight gain during pregnancy, rising hormone levels, or a combination.
A study of 200 pregnant women states that 39% of them experience rhinitis at some point.
This issue tends to resolve within 3 weeks of delivery.
Furthermore, nasal congestion can exacerbate symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea during pregnancy.
Another study indicates that obstructive sleep apnea is associated with hypertension, the potentially serious complication of preeclampsia, and fetal growth development.
Overall, it is a good idea to seek medical advice or raise the issue with a doctor if you have persistent nasal congestion during pregnancy.
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A symptom of COVID-19?
According to a recent analysis by WHO, the World health organization, only 5% of the people with novel coronavirus infections experience a stuffy nose as a result.
However, more commonly repeated symptoms one may experience are:
- a dry cough
- unexplained exhaustion
- coughing u thick mucus from the lungs
Treatment and Home Remedies
When you have nasal congestion, it can stop you in your tracks, and constant sniffling or mouth breathing can even make it more difficult to focus on the day.
While there is no cure for nasal congestion from the cold or flu, you can treat the symptoms. They can help feel you better while your body gets rid of cold or flu virus. OTC medications can help treat a number of symptoms.
Keep on reading to learn more.
Medications for Nasal Congestion
Let’s discuss these options as follows:
Congestion from Cold or Flu
As nasal congestion is the result of swollen nasal passages, medications can help shrink the tissue swelling.
With the help of nonprescription topical nasal decongestants like oxymetazoline, you can help relieve nasal congestion.
These medications work by shrinking the inflamed lining or mucosa of the nose through a process: Vasoconstriction.
This means that there is constriction of blood vessels, due to the use of these medications.
Shrinking these tissues helps to open the airways, thus reducing resistance and improving airflow.
Moreover, with the help of nasal sprays that contain topical oxymetazoline, works in minutes to shrink swollen nasal membranes.
These help to breathe more freely. The effect of these medications can last for up to 12 hours to relieve nasal congestion from cold or upper respiratory allergies.
However, if your nasal congestion is due to the common cold or flu symptoms like cough and chest congestion, you can use relief medications.
Such medications have nasal decongestants that come in a liquid or pill.
Furthermore, in case the nasal congestion is due to allergies, you can use antihistamines to relieve sneezing or a runny nose.
Congestion from Allergies In case of year-round allergies, you will need to use prescription and other over-the-counter medications to relieve the symptoms.
Additionally, make sure to avoid the triggers as much as possible.
You can also use nasal steroids like mometasone, fluticasone, antibiotics, or over-the-counter or prescription-strength decongestants.
While if you have tumors or nasal polyps in your nasal passages or sinuses that keep the mucus from draining out, your doctor may recommend surgery in order to remove them.
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In order to clear congestion at home, you can try the following home remedies;
Make sure to keep yourself hydrated, as drinking plenty of water helps to keep the
mucus thin and drains it out.
Taking a warm shower, or inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water, can also help.
In order to perform this remedy, boil water in a pan, and bend your head over the bowl with a towel over your head to trap in the steam.
Make sure to inhale the steam so that it can help thin out the mucus.
Moreover, keeping your head elevated while sleeping can help drain out the excess mucus.
With the help of over-the-counter, OTC antihistamines or decongestants, you can help relieve the symptoms of nasal congestion.
You can also try nasal rinses or nasal irrigation.
It is a process in which you pour salt water or a saline solution into one nostril.
As it flows through the nasal cavity into the other nostril, it helps to wash out the mucus and allergens.
Taking OTC pain relief medication can help relieve sinus pressure or pain, applying a cold compress to painful areas can also help.
Furthermore, you can take prophylactic probiotics or consume probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and kimchi.
Additionally, taking supplements to boost your immunity like zinc sulfate, echinacea, vitamin C or geranium extract is also beneficial.
However, it is important to note that experts warn against the overuse of nasal sprays and decongestants, as doing that excessively can cause congestion.
How long does it last?
In most cases, people with a common cold or flu will feel better after a week or two.
However, if the nasal congestion occurs due to a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for 10 to 14 days.
In most cases, the congestion tends to clear within 7 days, but it is important to take the full course of antibiotics.
This is because the bacteria may still be alive in your body and the infection can recur.
While if the cause of congestion is an allergy, the congestion may last as long as you are exposed to the allergy.
On the other hand, in case of a deviated septum, it regularly exacerbates or causes congestion, your doctor may recommend corrective surgery.
Visiting a Doctor
In case the nasal congestion lasts longer than 10 to 14 days, or gets worse after 7 to 10 days, it can steam from a sinus infection.
In such a case, you should visit your doctor or seek medical advice.
Moreover, it is a good idea to receive professional care if the congestion does not ease with the help of home remedies.
Or it is accompanied by:
- a high fever
- discolored mucus or discharge
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, doing the following can help to reduce your reaction to allergens and the risk of infection:
- washing hands frequently with soap and water
- washing your bed linens regularly in hot water and detergent
- keep the windows and doors closed during high pollen and mold seasons including spring and fall
- use dut mile covers for pillows, comforters, mattresses, and box springs
- vacuum frequently
- avoid close contact if anyone around you is ill
In order to reduce your risk of rhinitis during pregnancy, it can help to maintain a healthy weight.
Summing it Up
Nasal congestion can occur due to an allergy, an infection, a malformation of the sinuses, or a health issue in any other part of your body. In most cases, it clears with the help of home remedies and OTC medications.
However, you may need antibiotics for a bacterial infection or surgery to correct the septal deviation. In case the congestion is severe or persistent, contact your doctor. This is especially the case during pregnancy.