What Is Nasal Congestion and How Does It Affect You? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What Is Nasal Congestion and How Does It Affect You Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Nasal congestion, sometimes known as “stuffy nose,” is a condition in which the movement of air in and out of the nose is obstructed. The word “runny nose,” on the other hand, refers to a discharge (fluid) from the nasal passages. Inflammation and edema of the lining tissues of the nasal passages and sinuses are the most prevalent causes of nasal congestion. Anatomical obstacles (such as a deviated nasal septum or foreign substances) are less prevalent causes of nasal congestion. The use of some nasal decongestant sprays or drops for an extended period of time might cause nasal congestion to worsen. Nasal tumors or persistent medical disorders are occasionally the cause of nasal congestion.

What is nasal congestion, and what causes it?

The feeling of a blocked, stuffy, or clogged nose is known as nasal congestion. It might linger for a short time (a few days) or be permanent, depending on the reason. It is commonly a bothersome symptom in adults and children rather than a serious one. Nasal congestion, on the other hand, makes it harder for newborns to breathe or feed.

The next sections go over some of the reasons of nasal congestion. Along with the clogged nose, you may have additional symptoms.

Treatment and Causes

A clogged or stuffy nose is referred to as nasal congestion. It can be caused by a variety of factors. Some of these issues will go away on their own, while others may require therapy.

There are a number of self-help options that might help you get rid of nasal congestion. Sprays, pills, and medications are also available over the counter or on prescription to help you feel better.

What is the best way to get rid of nasal congestion?

The source of nasal congestion will be addressed whenever feasible. The most prevalent causes of nasal congestion, on the other hand, improve on their own. In any case, there are a variety of nasal congestion treatments that can help you feel better by clearing out a blocked, runny, or stuffy nose. All of these remedies only work for a limited time and must be repeated until the problem is resolved.

Inhalation of steam

Always use extreme caution when handling boiling water to avoid burning yourself. Fill a big bowl or basin halfway with hot water from a kettle and place it on a table. Place your face over the bowl while sitting in a chair at the table. For 5 or 10 minutes, breathe normally. A steam cup can also be purchased from a pharmacy. This is a cup made of plastic with a cover and a mask. Fill the cup halfway with boiling water, secure the lid and mask, and inhale the steam through the mask. The bathroom is the safest place for tiny toddlers to inhale steam. Shut the door, and then turn on the hot shower and/or hot taps. Sit with your child (outside the shower as you want the water very hot) and look at a book or play with a toy for 5 to 10 minutes.

saline solutions , (Salt water)

For a brief time, salt water (saline) can assist clear a clogged nose. Saline drops are available over-the-counter or on prescription. They’re occasionally used to help newborns who aren’t able to eat because they’re congested. There are also saline sprays and solutions that are intended to clean up the nasal airways. All of these things make the crud in the nose more liquid, allowing it to drain more easily.

Vapors, rubs, and pastilles containing menthol

Many treatments for nasal congestion that contain substances like menthol or eucalyptus oil are available over the counter. Vicks and Olbas are the most well-known, but there are many more that act in the similar way. They come in the form of vapor rubs that you put on your chest to inhale the vapor, as well as oils that you mix with hot water for steam inhalations. Sucking throat sweets is also an option. These not only relieve a sore throat, but they also create a vapor that aids in the clearing of nasal congestion.

For nasal congestion, decongestant drops and sprays are available

Decongestant drops and sprays are particularly good in clearing nasal congestion and will help you breathe more easily. However, they should only be taken for 5-7 days at most. If you use them for an extended period of time, you may get rebound nasal congestion when you stop using them. They are not suitable for youngsters under the age of six. If none of the other choices have shown to be effective, children aged 6 to 12 years may use them for up to five days.

The following are some of the most widely used decongestant drops or nasal sprays:

  • Ephedrine.
  • Xylometazoline.
  • Oxymetazoline.
  • Ipratropium (only from age 12 years).

They come in several different brand names and are available over the counter or on prescription.

Tablets and syrups for decongestants

Decongestants that come in the shape of pills or liquid medications (syrups) are regarded to be safer to use for extended periods of time if necessary. Pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are the most often utilized. They are available under a variety of brand names. They’re both over-the-counter and prescription-only. Before using them, consult your doctor or pharmacist because they are not suited for everyone and may interfere with other medications.

Preparations containing steroid hormones for the nose

Nasal congestion is frequently treated with steroid sprays, especially when it is caused by allergies such as hay fever or nasal polyps. The interior of the nose is swollen, thus steroid sprays act by lowering the edema. The nasal spray should be sprayed into the nostrils directly. Adults can take steroid nasal sprays for a long time if necessary. There are a variety of steroid sprays available, as well as a variety of brands. Some may be purchased at pharmacies or supermarkets, while others require a prescription. Before taking a steroid spray for nasal congestion, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Steroid nasal drops are more readily absorbed than sprays and can cause similar side-effects to steroid tablets. They should therefore be used cautiously and for the shortest possible time.

With nasal congestion, how should I sleep?

When you lie down, the impact of gravity causes mucus to collect at the back of your throat, making nasal congestion worse. Your immune system is more active at night, according to studies. To make matters worse, there are no distractions, so your attention is drawn to your physical feelings. If necessary, sleep with your head propped up with an additional pillow. Nasal congestion may benefit from steam inhalations right before bedtime. Keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature. Some people are sensitive to dry air, and a humidifier in the bedroom may assist.

What causes congestion in the nose?

The following are the most prevalent causes of nasal congestion:
Illnesses: the common cold and various infections of the respiratory system, such as:

  • Sinusitis with influenza (flu).
  • Hay fever is one of the most common allergies.
  • Rhinitis that persists.
  • Polyps in the nose.

Nasal congestion can also be caused by the following less prevalent causes:

  • Adenoid glands swollen.
  • Nose injuries are common.
  • In the nose, there are foreign substances.
  • After quitting decongestant medication, congestion returns.
  • Sinus tumors are tumors on the interior of the nose.
  • Some medications have negative side effects.

The common cold

A typical cold causes nasal congestion. Your nasal discharge might be clear, yellow, or green. It might be thin and watery or thick and sticky. You could feel ill or exhausted, and you might have a headache or a fever (fever). It’s possible that you have a cough.

Symptoms of nasal congestion normally go away after a few days. While you wait for your immune system to fight off the infections, it may be beneficial to take some medicine to help you feel better. Paracetamol or ibuprofen, both available over-the-counter, may be beneficial. For a blocked nose, you may want to take a decongestant medication.

The flu is a contagious illness (influenza)

Sneezing and nasal congestion are symptoms of the flu, which is a viral infection. It makes patients feel a lot worse than a regular cold, with high fevers, tiredness, and aches and pains. The treatment is largely the same as for a regular cold. However, certain patients who are more sensitive may require antiviral medication, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza). These are only given to patients who are at risk of suffering flu-related problems.


The sinuses are tiny, air-filled chambers that drain into the nose and are located between the cheekbones and forehead. The term “sinusitis” refers to the inflammation of a sinus. An infection is the most common cause of sinusitis. The majority of sinusitis cases are acute (lasting 1-4 weeks), however some may progress to chronic sinusitis.

Nasal congestion and discomfort in the afflicted sinus are the most common symptoms of sinusitis. This most usually occurs on one or both sides of the nose in the forehead or cheeks. Bending down may make the ache worse. Dizziness and fever are two more symptoms that might arise.

The symptoms of sinusitis are mainly nasal sinusitis congestion is usually treated with painkillers and decongestants. Occasionally antibiotics are needed.

Hay fever is a common ailment that

Hay fever is a frequent cause of nasal congestion and stuffiness induced by a pollen allergy. Hay fever is characterized by itchy, watery eyes and frequent sneezing. Depending on the pollen you are allergic to, you will have nasal congestion during one season of the year. This is often late spring to early summer in the United Kingdom.

Antihistamines (as pills, medications, or sprays), steroid nasal sprays, or steroid nasal drops are the most common treatments for hay fever.

Allergic rhinitis is a kind of allergic rhinitis.

The swelling (inflammation) of the tissues lining the interior of the nose is known as rhinitis. Allergies (allergic rhinitis) or other factors may be to blame (non-allergic rhinitis). Other allergens, in addition to pollen, can induce nasal congestion. The symptoms are comparable to hay fever. Tests, such as skin prick testing or blood tests, may be available to determine what you are allergic to (the allergen). If at all feasible, the allergen should be avoided. If this isn’t feasible, the therapy is comparable to hay fever.

Polyps in the nose

Nasal polyps are non-cancerous (benign) swellings that develop inside the nose or sinuses. A stuffy, runny nose is the most prevalent symptom they induce. Polyps are routinely treated with steroid nasal drops. Occasionally, a surgery is required. Nasal polyps frequently recur following treatment, thus steroid nasal sprays are sometimes administered on a regular basis to keep them at bay.

There are also other reasons of nasal congestion.

Nasal congestion can be caused by swollen adenoid glands, especially in youngsters. The adenoid glands are fleshy tissue that protrudes from the back of the nose. Often, nothing has to be done if they shrink spontaneously. However, if they are creating issues, they can be surgically removed (typically together with the tonsils). See the brochure What Do Tonsils Do? for additional information.

Nasal congestion can occur if the separating tissue between your two nostrils (nasal septum) is not straight (deviated septum). It might be the consequence of an accident or just the shape your nose has taken since birth.

Children may get objects such as beads or peas stuck up their noses. Rarely, a tumor in the airways around the nose or sinuses may cause congestion.

What tests are required in the case of nasal congestion?

You probably won’t require any testing if you have nasal congestion. Your doctor can usually figure out what’s causing your symptoms by asking you questions and examining you.

A referral to an ENT specialist may be required in some cases. You may then be subjected to allergy skin prick testing or blood tests. A flexible telescope may be used by the ENT expert to see farther into the back of your nose (Rhinoscopy). A computerized tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may be required on rare occasions.

When should I go to the doctor if I’m suffering from nasal congestion?

There is no need to consult a doctor in many cases of nasal congestion. If you have a regular cold with no problems or hay fever, for example, you may frequently treat yourself. If you require any over-the-counter medicine to aid with the symptoms, a pharmacist may be able to help. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should visit a doctor:

  • Despite attempting the solutions advised in this leaflet or the leaflet related to the ailment causing it, your nasal congestion has not improved after a week or two.
  • You don’t know what’s causing your nasal congestion.
  • If the discharge from your nose contains any blood, it’s a red flag.
  • Your nose is only obstructed on one side.
  • You or your child is sick and has a high temperature (fever) and nasal congestion.
  • A baby is having trouble eating or breathing due to nasal congestion.
  • You’re in a bad mood.

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