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Nasal Congestion

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Nasal congestion is nothing but stuffy nose that happens when the mucus becomes too thick, the tissues lining the nose get swollen and blood vessels are inflamed.  Right from new born infants to adults to old people, anyone can have this symptom and it’s indeed very annoying. Nasal congestion is also called as blocked nose, plugged nose or nasal blockage.

Nasal congestion is often accompanied with mild facial pain, head pain as well as common cold. It makes breathing a challenge and even if you blow your nose, at times, nothing comes out and you continue to feel stuffy.This is because there is little mucus in the nose. The congestion is due to the swollen nasal passages and tissues that makes it hard to breath.

How does it feel like?

Nasal congestion is itself a symptom. Your nose gets blocked as the tissue lining of the nose swells. You constantly sniff your nose and try to expel the mucus to free yourself from that heaviness. Your nose draws all your attention.

What symptoms are associated with nasal congestion?

  • Teary eyes
  • Cough, cold
  • Change of voice
  • Sneezing
  • Headache
  • Pain in ears
  • Facial pain
  • Hearing problems
  • Teary eyes
  • Breathing trouble

What causes nasal congestion?

In most cases nasal congestion is a side effect of common cold, flu and sinus infection and it goes away within a week. It can also happen due to overuse of nasal decongestants.

Other causes behind this kind of discomfort could be:

  • Hay fever
  • Nasal polyps
  • Deviated septum
  • Vasomotor rhinitis
  • Exposure to allergens, chemicals, environmental irritants
  • Increase in amount of blood flowing in the body causes pregnant women to suffer from nasal congestion
  • Churg-Strauss syndrome
  • Drug addiction
  • High blood pressure medications
  • Bright lights

When to see doctor?

Usually nasal congestion doesn’t pose any major health threat and it gets cured with home remedies. However, you must go for a check-up if your nose remains stuffy and clogged for more than a week or so and you do not notice any signs of improvement.

Other symptoms that call for doctor’s help are:

  • High fever
  • Breathing trouble, throat pain
  • If you have a history of asthma, emphysema or chronic sinusitis
  • The nasal discharge appears greenish in color
  • If you observe hints of blood in the mucus

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Also remember that if your baby is less than 2 months old and is having congestion in nose, then immediately get a check-up done before he/she faces any breathing difficulty. We suggest an early treatment because when your baby’s nose gets blocked, it interferes with feeding.

What tests are suggested by your doctor?

Well, there are no specific tests for nasal congestion, except a physical examination of the nose as it is just a very common symptom of cold and infection. However, if you have asthma or if the doctor suspects some major health complication then you need to undergo the following tests:

  • Sputum culture test
  • Skin tests for allergies
  • Serum total IgE for diagnosing allergy
  • Blood tests- CBC and blood differential)
  • Sinus x-ray
  • Chest x-ray

Treatment for nasal congestion

The treatment is completely dependent on the underlying cause. The congestion goes away with treatment of the health complication. Additionally, your doctor will prescribe you certain medications that will improve the conditions of the blood vessels and de-clog your nose. One such drug type is alpha-adrenergic agonist.

Anti-histamines are prescribed to combat allergy while antibiotics might also be administered to treat flu and cold. Lastly, different forms (oral, topical, sprays, etc.)of nasal decongestants may also be suggested by your doctor for a day or two for instant relief.

Surgery is done to eliminate nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis problems.

Home care for nasal congestion

  • If your baby is suffering from cold along with stuffy nose, then make sure you give him/her plenty of fluids. It could be breastfeeding or formula milk and most importantly water.
  • The aforementioned fluid therapy applies to adults also. Have herbal teas, soups and broth, especially chicken soups flavored with ginger and herbs.
  • Avoid taking cold showers; instead take bath in lukewarm water
  • Inhale steam. Cover your head with a towel and bring it a bit close to a bowl of boiling water to soak your face in steam.
  • Use saline nasal sprays to prevent your nasal passages from drying
  • Irrigate your nose by cleaning it with saline water.
  • Make sure you elevate your head with one or two pillows while sleeping

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: february 10, 2015