Asthma & Allergy

Things to know about nasal congestion

Nasal congestion is one of the most common health complaints. It occurs when the nose is inflamed and becomes stuffy. Minor illnesses such as sinus infections, flu, and cold are some of the common causes of nasal congestion. This type of nasal congestion generally improves in a week or so. However, if nasal congestion lasts for more than a week, it can be an indication of other serious health complications. Some of the common causes of prolonged nasal congestion are allergies, hay fever, chemical exposures, deviated septum, chronic sinusitis, exposure to environmental irritants, nasal polyps, and formation of benign tumors in the nasal passages.

In certain cases, nasal congestion occurs at the end of the first trimester of pregnancy. This happens due to hormonal fluctuations and an increase in blood supply. The changes may cause the nasal membranes to become dry or inflamed.

What are the common symptoms?
The symptoms of nasal congestion are quite similar to that of the common cold. One of the most common symptoms is a runny or stuffy nose. It is accompanied by sinus pain and swelling of the nasal tissues. In most cases, there is mucus buildup as well. There can be a headache and a constant feeling of fatigue as well. Fever and sneezing are other common symptoms of nasal congestion.

When should you consult a doctor for nasal congestion?
While home remedies are quite useful in clearing nasal congestion, there can be cases when one will have to consult a doctor. This usually happens in case of long-term nasal congestion, which can be a symptom of another health condition. Medical attention is also required if there is pain and the congestion is making it difficult to carry out everyday activities.

A doctor should be consulted if there is a continuous flow of clear discharge or bloody nasal discharge after a head injury. Other nasal congestion symptoms that indicate the requirement of immediate medical attention include a stuffy nose for more than 10 days and high fever that lasts for more than three days. Green nasal discharge with fever and nasal pain, asthma, emphysema, and a weak immune system.

Moreover, it is important to consult a doctor for nasal congestion in infants and young children. In infants, congestion can affect feeding, lead to breathing complications, interfere with hearing development, and also affect normal speech.

Common ways to treat nasal congestion
The treatment for nasal congestion depends on its cause. Usually, prescription or over-the-counter medications are recommended for treating the symptoms. Medication to clear up the symptoms include oral antihistamines, nasal sprays, nasal steroids, antibiotics, and strength decongestants.

In the case of tumors, sinus blockage, and nasal polyps, surgery may be required.

Home remedies
In mild cases of nasal congestion, home remedies can be helpful in alleviating the symptoms. One can use humidifiers to increase moisture in the air. This will break up the mucus and have a soothing effect on the inflamed nasal passageways. However, asthma patients must consult a doctor about the use of a humidifier. Saline sprays can also be used to clear up the congestion. In the case of babies, it is recommended to use a nasal bulb or an aspirator after using a saline spray. Propping one’s head on pillows can also help in the free flow of mucus from the nose.