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Nasal congestion is another term for a stuffy nose. It is often a symptom of another health problem, such as a sinus infection, but it may also be caused by the common cold. Nasal congestion is marked by:
Home remedies may be enough to alleviate nasal congestion, particularly if it is brought on by the common cold. However, if you experience chronic (long-term) congestion, you should seek medical treatment.
Minor illnesses are the most common cause of nasal congestion. For instance, a cold, the flu, and sinus infections can all cause stuffy noses. When your nose becomes stuffed up and inflamed, this is congestion. According to the National Institutes of Health, illness-related congestion usually improves on its own within one week. (NIH, 2011)
Congestion that lasts for longer than one week is often indicative of an underlying health issue. Some explanations for long-term nasal congestion may be:
Nasal congestion may also occur during pregnancy, beginning most often during the end of the first trimester. This nasal congestion may be caused by the hormonal fluctuations and increased blood supply that occur during pregnancy. These changes may affect the nasal membranes, causing them to become inflamed, dry, or to bleed.
Home remedies can help immensely when you are suffering from nasal congestion. Humidifiers that add moisture to the air may help to break up mucus and to soothe inflamed nasal passageways. However, if you have asthma, ask your doctor before using a humidifier. Propping your head up on pillows can also encourage mucus to flow out of your nasal passages.
There are also a few nonmedicated solutions you can purchase from the drugstore. Also, consider using a saline spray. These sprays can be used as often as needed throughout the day, and they work by breaking up mucus and soothing inflamed nostrils.
Saline sprays are safe for all ages, but for babies you will need to use an aspirator (nasal bulb) afterward. An aspirator is used to remove any remaining mucus from the baby’s nose.
Sometimes, home remedies are not enough to relieve congestion, particularly if your symptoms are caused by another health condition. In this case, prompt medical treatment may be needed, especially if your condition is painful and interfering with your everyday activities.
If you have or have had any of the following, see your doctor right away:
Once your doctor has determined the cause of chronic nasal congestion, he or she can then recommend a treatment plan. Treatment plans often include over-the-counter or prescription medication to resolve or alleviate symptoms.
Medications used to treat nasal congestion include:
If you have tumors or nasal polyps in your nasal passages or sinuses that are keeping mucus from draining out, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the tumors and improve your symptoms.
Nasal congestion rarely causes major health problems. Symptoms usually improve right away with proper treatment.
Nasal congestion can be more threatening in infants than in older children and adults. Nasal symptoms can interfere with infant feedings and can even lead to potentially fatal breathing problems. They may also prevent normal speech and hearing development. For these reasons, it is important to contact your pediatrician right away if your infant is experiencing nasal congestion. He or she can then work with you to find the best treatment options for your baby.
Written by: Kristeen Moore
Published on: Jun 02, 2016
Medically reviewed on: Jun 02, 2016: [Ljava.lang.Object;@6db06ffb
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