Nasal congestion is another term for a stuffy nose. It is
often a symptom of another health problem, such as a sinus infection. It may
also be caused by the common cold.
Nasal congestion is marked by:
or runny nose
Home remedies may be enough to alleviate nasal congestion,
particularly if it is caused by the common cold. However, if you experience
chronic, or long-term, congestion, you should seek medical treatment.
Causes of nasal congestion
Congestion is when your nose becomes stuffed up and
inflamed. Minor illnesses are the most common causes of nasal congestion. For
instance, a cold, the flu, and sinus infections can all cause stuffy noses. Illness-related
congestion usually improves within one week.
Congestion that lasts longer than one week is often a
symptom of an underlying health issue. Some explanations for long-term nasal
congestion may be:
growths, called nasal polyps, or benign tumors in the nasal passages
sinus infection, known as chronic sinusitis
Nasal congestion may also occur during pregnancy, usually
during the end of the first trimester. Hormonal fluctuations and increased
blood supply that occur during pregnancy may cause this nasal congestion.
These changes may affect the nasal membranes, causing them
to become inflamed, dry, or to bleed.
Home remedies for nasal
Home remedies can help when you are experiencing nasal
congestion. Humidifiers that add moisture to the air may help to break up mucus
and to soothe inflamed nasal passageways. However, if you have asthma, ask your
doctor before using a humidifier.
Propping your head up on pillows can also encourage mucus to
flow out of your nasal passages.
Saline sprays are safe for all ages, but for babies you will
need to use an aspirator, or nasal bulb, afterward. An aspirator is used to
remove any remaining mucus from the baby’s nose.
When you should see a
Sometimes, home remedies are not enough to relieve
congestion, particularly if your symptoms are caused by another health
condition. In this case, medical treatment may be needed, especially if your
condition is painful and interfering with your everyday activities.
If you have experienced any of the following, see your
doctor right away:
lasting longer than 10 days
accompanied by a high fever that has lasted more than three days
nasal discharge along with sinus pain and fever
immune system, asthma, or emphysema
should also see your doctor right away if you’ve had a recent head injury and
are now having bloody nasal discharge or a constant flow of clear discharge
Infants and children
Nasal congestion can be more threatening in infants than in
older children and adults. Nasal symptoms can interfere with infant feedings
and can even lead to fatal breathing problems.
Nasal congestion may also prevent normal speech and hearing
development. For these reasons, it is important to contact your pediatrician
right away if your infant has nasal congestion. Your doctor can then work with
you to find the best treatment options for your baby.
After your doctor has determined the cause of chronic nasal
congestion, they can recommend a treatment plan. Treatment plans often include
over-the-counter or prescription medication to resolve or alleviate symptoms.
Medications used to treat nasal congestion include:
antihistamines to treat allergies, such as loratadine (Claritin) and cetirizine (Zyrtec)
sprays that contain antihistamine, such as azelastine (Astelin, Astepro)
steroids, such as mometasone (Asmanex Twisthaler) or fluticasone (Flovent Diskus, Flovent
or prescription strength decongestants, such as Sudafed
If you have tumors or nasal polyps in your nasal passages or
sinuses that are keeping mucus from draining out, your doctor may recommend surgery
to remove the tumors.
What is the outlook for
Nasal congestion rarely causes major health problems.
Symptoms usually improve right away with proper treatment.