Nasal congestion

Nasal congestion

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Alternative Names: Congested nose, stuffy nose

Nasal congestion or obstruction is one of the most common complaints encountered in primary care. Nasal congestion is the blockage of the nasal passages usually due to excessive secretion of mucus that is caused by a virus and typically resolves spontaneously within a week. This condition causes blockage of the nasal passages when the lining of the membranes in the nose become swollen and inflamed.

People who have allergic reactions, colds and flu are no doubt familiar with that feeling of congestion. It can severely affect infants in their first few months of life. It also affects speech and hearing and may also cause sleep disorders such snoring and sleep apnea.

Nasal congestion is often caused by a viral infection (Rhinoviruses, respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza and influenza viruses, and adenoviruses are among the viruses most commonly identified).

Nasal congestion is also caused by bacterial rhinitis a sequel to viral rhinitis. It causes a mucopurulent nasal discharge. Bacteria most often implicated are Streptococcus pneumoniae, group A beta-hemolytic streptococci and Haemophilus influenzae.

Nasal congestion is also caused by fungal rhinitis, most often found in immunocompromised patients. Candida, Aspergillus, Nocardia, Cryptococcus, and Phycomycetes are most often implicated.

Other Causes May Include:

    Vasomotor rhinitis.

  • Atrophic rhinitis.

  • Chronic sinusitis.

  • Foreign body in the nose.

  • Nasal septal abnormalities.

  • Occlusion nasal valve.

  • Turbinate hypertrophy.

  • Adenoid hypertrophy.

  • Nasal polyps.

  • Neoplasm.

Risk Factors:

    Allergic reaction.

  • Triggered by chemical irritants, changes in weather or humidity, and stress.

  • Common cold or flu.

  • Hay fever.

  • Sinus infection or sinusitis.

Once you have determined the cause of congestion, there are a number of treatment options available.


    Clear watery discharge from nose.

  • Thick yellowish-green discharge.

  • Sneezing.

  • Breathing difficulty.

  • Cough.

  • Headache.

  • Sore throat.

  • Itching eyes.


Your health care provider will checkyour nose, ears, throat and upper respiratory system. Certaintests such as allergy skin tests, blood tests, sputum or throat culture, x-rays of thesinuses, chest x-ray, nasopharyngoscopy, and immunoglobulin tests may also be ordered to confirm theexact diagnosis.


Over-the-counter medicines may help relieve a stuffy nose and can make breathing more comfortable.

Decongestants shrink the blood vessels in the lining of the nose. These medicines only relieve stuffiness, not a runny nose or other symptoms. Decongestant nasal sprays and drops should not be used for more than 3 days, because after that time they can make the congestion worse.

Antihistamines may reduce the amount of mucus. Be careful, because some antihistamines make people drowsy.

Note: These medicines do not treat the underlying condition. Many over-the-counter allergy and cold medicines contain multiple ingredients, so look carefully to see what is in the one you choose.

Herbal and homeopathic remedies are an effective natural alternative for congestion relief. These remedies are safe and gentle for the body without the harsh side effects of conventional medication.

Two well known herbs such as Quercetin contain anti-oxidants and help to boost immunity and promote healthy circulation while Euphrasia officinalis (Eyebright) supports vision and eye health.

Preventive Measures:

    Use a humidifier or vaporizer.

  • Take long showers or -- very carefully -- breathe in steam from a pot on the stove.

  • Drink lots of fluids, which will thin out your mucus and may help prevent your sinuses from getting blocked up.

  • Use a nasal saline spray - simple unmedicated salt water - to help prevent your nasal passages from drying out.

  • Avoid alcohol, because it can dry out your nasal passages and raise the risk of inflammation.

Disclaimer: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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