Do you know that a Nasal Congestion can occur due to anything that irritates or inflames the nasal tissues?
Infections like colds, flu, or sinusitis and often allergies can cause frequent nasal congestion and a runny nose.
In some cases, however, it can be due to chemical irritants like tobacco smoke, and car exhaust.
This condition is nonallergic rhinitis or vasomotor rhinitis.
However, in rare cases, nasal congestion can be due to the presence of a tumor.
It is important to note that a stuffy or runny nose, sinus pain, mucus buildup, and swollen nasal tissues, marks nasal congestion.
With the help of certain home remedies, you can alleviate nasal congestion.
However, in some cases, you may need medical treatment, if the nasal congestion is in the long term.
Let’s learn more about it in detail.
Causes of Nasal Congestion
Congestion occurs when your nose is stuffed up and inflamed.
Minor illnesses are one of the most common causes of nasal congestion.
For example, a cold, flu, and sinus infections can also potentially cause a stuffy nose.
However, these illness related to congestion often improves within a week.
In case nasal congestion lasts longer than a week, it is often a symptom of an underlying condition.
Some explanations for long-term nasal congestion are:
- chemical exposure like smoke
- noncancerous growth like nasal polyps, or benign tumors in the nasal passages
It is important to note that nasal congestion can also occur during pregnancy, often during the end of the first trimester.
Hormonal fluctuation and an increase in blood supply that occur during pregnancy may cause it.
Such changes can affect the nasal membranes, thus, causing them to become inflamed, dry, or bleed.
Other Causes of Nasal Congestion
People with reduced immune function, in case of HIV, diabetes, or those receiving chemotherapy can be suspectable to nasal congestion from infection.
In other cases, nasal congestion may not be a response to a pathogen, irritant, or allergen.
It may be due to:
Lying down makes it harder for your body to clear mucus, so you may have a reduction in mobility and be more prone to congestion.
Structural Issues within Sinuses
These issues may include:
- nasal polyps
- septal deviation
- narrowing of the passageways
- an extra pocket
Health Conditions that Reduces Mucous Transport
Some examples of such conditions include cystic fibrosis, gallbladder disorder, or biliary dyskinesia.
In the case of septal deviation, you may experience nasal congestion.
The spetum is the thin wall separating the left and right nasal airways, and a deviation means that the wall is slanting to one side.
This can make breathing through one nostril difficult, even without an allergy or a cold to cause congestion.
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Nasal Congestion in Children
As a parent or a caregiver, if you suspect the child having nasal congestion and especially a baby, then you will have 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 congestion is quite common.
The medical term for this condition is pregnancy rhinitis.
It may stem from issues like obesity, excessive weight gain during pregnancy, rising hormone levels, or a combination.
According to a study, about 39% of the participant experienced this rhinitis at some point.
Moreover, it tends to resolve within 3 weeks of delivery.
Nasal congestion may exacerbate symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea during pregnancy.
Another study indicates that obstructive sleep apnea is associated with hypertension, a potentially serious complication of preeclampsia, and fetal growth complications.
Overall, it is a good idea to raise this issue with your doctor if you have persistent nasal congestion during pregnancy.
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Is it a Symptom of COVID-19?
According to a recent analysis of the World Health Organization, WHO, about 5% of the people with novel coronavirus infections experience a stuffy nose as a result.
Moreover, the common symptoms that people report are:
- a fever
- dry cough
- unexplained exhaustion
- coughing up thick mucus from the lungs
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After your doctor determines the cause of nasal congestion, they can recommend a treatment plan.
It often includes over-the-counter or prescription medications to resolve or alleviate symptoms.
Medications to treat nasal congestion are:
- Oral antihistamines to treat allergies like loratadine and cetirizine
- nasal sprays that contain antihistamines like azelastine
- nasal steroids like mometasone or fluticasone
- over-the-counter or prescription-strength decongestants
In case you have tumors or nasal polyps in your nasal passages or sinus, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove them.
This is especially the case when mucus keeps draining out.
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Home Remedies for Nasal Congestion
Often with the help of home remedies, you can alleviate nasal congestion.
With the help of humidifiers, you can add moisture to the air that can help break up the mucus and soothe inflamed nasal passages.
However, in case you have asthma, you should seek medical advice or ask your doctor before using a humidifier.
Moreover, propping your head up on the pillows can also encourage mucus to flow out of your nasal passage.
Saline nasal sprays and neti pots are also safe to use for all ages.
However, in the case of your baby, you will need to use an aspirator or nasal bulb afterward.
An aspirator can help to remove any remaining mucus from the nose of your baby.
Furthermore, hydration, a warm shower, inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water, can also help.
You can also apply a cold compress to the painful area of your face, take prophylactic probiotics or probiotic-rich foods to relieve the symptoms.
Additionally, taking supplements that boost immunity like zinc sulfate, echinacea, vitamin C or geranium extract can also help.
It is important to note that experts warn against the use of nasal sprays in long term.
This is because nasal spray or decongestant can cause recurring congestion.
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Treating Nasal Congestion in Infants and Children
It is important to note that nasal congestion can be a more serious and threatening condition in infants than in older children and adults.
Moreover, the symptoms can interfere with their feedings and even lead to fatal breathing issues.
It can also prevent normal speech and hearing development.
For the above reasons, it is important to contact your pediatrician right away if your infant has nasal congestion.
They can work with you to find the best treatment options for your baby.
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When to See a Doctor?
In some cases, home remedies are not enough to relieve nasal congestion, especially if your symptoms occur due to another health condition.
In such a case, medical treatment can help to treat it.
This is especially the case if your condition is painful and interfering with your day-to-day activities.
If you experience any of the following, see your doctor, or seek medical advice right away:
- congestion that lasts longer than 10 days
- congestion along with a high fever laster for more than 3 days
- green nasal discharge along with sinus pain and fever
- a weakened immune system, asthma, or emphysema
Moreover, you should also see your doctor right away if you had a recent head injury and are now having a bloody nasal discharge or a constant flow of clear discharge.
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According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, doing the following can help to reduce your reaction to allergens and risk of infections:
- washing hand frequently with soap and water
- washing bed linens in hot water and detergent regularly
- keeping the windows and doors closed during high pollen and mold season, including spring and fall
- using dust mites covers for pillows, comforters, mattresses, and box springs
- vacuuming your home frequently.
- avoid close contact with people who are ill
Moreover, in order to reduce the risk of rhinitis during pregnancy, maintaining a healthy weight can help.
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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 nasal congestion occurs due to a bacterial infection, you will need prescription antibiotics for 10 to 14 days.
The congestion often tends to clean within 7 days.
Still, it is important to take the full course of antibiotics.
This is because the bacteria may still be alive in your body and can recur causing an infection again.
In case, allergy is the culprit, the congestion may last as long as you are exposed to the allergen.
While in case of a deviated septum, regular exacerbation, or congestion causes, the doctor may recommend corrective surgery.
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Wrapping it Up
Nasal congestion may occur due to issues like an allergy, an infection, a malformation of the sinuses, or health issues in any other part of your body. In most cases, congestion tends to clear with certain home remedies and OCT medications.
However, you might need antibiotics in case the case of congestion is a bacterial infection or surgery to correct a deviated septum. If congestion is persistent or severe, contact a doctor, especially during pregnancy.