What Causes Nasal Congestion

Symptoms of Nasal Congestion

Nasal congestion is the medical term for what is commonly referred to as a stuffy nose. Stuffy noses are usually a symptom of some other condition that's causing it. Symptoms of nasal congestion symptoms include:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Accumulation of mucus
  • Nasal tissue becoming swollen
  • Pain in the sinus area

Specific Causes of Nasal Congestion

The most common cause of nasal congestion is simply minor illnesses like the common cold, sinus infections or the flu. Although sometimes these minor illnesses seem like anything but minor, their symptoms will usually clear up in a few days to a week.

If your symptoms persist for longer than a week, it could be a sign that there is some other issue that you are suffering from. Nasal congestion lasting longer than a week can be caused by the following:

  • Seasonal allergies
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals or irritants in the environment
  • Chronic sinusitis, which is a sinus infection that can last for weeks
  • Respiratory issues
  • Deviated septum
  • Benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous) growths in the nasal passages (usually called nasal polyps)
  • A symptom of pregnancy, usually towards the end of the first trimester

Simple Home Remedies for Nasal Congestion

If you're the type to try home remedies before going to the doctor, consider the following options:

  • Use a humidifier to increase the humidity in your home or office. The humidity can help to soothe your inflamed nasal passages.
  • Use a saline spray or aspirator.
  • Keep your head propped up on a pillow to help mucus drain out.

When Should You See a Doctor?

If your symptoms include more severe issues, or if your nasal congestion has lasted for weeks, you should seek medical attention from a professional. If you have these symptoms accompanying your nasal congestion, you should also seek medical help:

  • A high fever that lasts more than a couple days
  • Weak immune system
  • Respiratory issues such as asthma or emphysema
  • Discharge of green nasal fluid

Treatment Options for Nasal Congestion

If your nasal congestion is a result of an underlying cause, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan based on that specific cause. Oftentimes, the symptoms or underlying cause of your nasal congestion can be treated with over-the-counter medication or prescription medication including:

  • Antihistamines such as cetirizine or loratadine
  • Nasal sprays or nasal steroids
  • Decongestants
  • Antibiotics

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

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