Another name for nasal congestion – a stuffy nose – could be a symptom of several conditions; for instance, a cold or flu, a sinus infection, an allergy, or exposure to environmental or chemical irritants. Nasal congestion can also be a sign of a more serious condition.
Most of us take comfortably breathing through our nose for granted; that is until we can’t. No one enjoys a stuffy nose and what’s more, a stuffy nose is only a symptom of what’s really occurring. Here is everything you need to know about nasal congestion.
Nasal Congestion – Causes
Nasal passages become dry and irritated as a result of multiple conditions that cause linings of the nasal passages to lose their natural moistness. The result is a stuffy nose. The most common conditions that cause stuffiness or nasal congestion are common, minor illnesses as mentioned above. Below are a few of the more serious conditions that cause nasal congestion.
- Deviated septum. The septum is the wall separating the nasal passages. When it is displaced to one side or the other it is defined as a deviated septum. In such cases one nasal passage is smaller than the other, which causes breathing to become more difficult as airflow is restricted, causing nasal congestion.
- Nasal polyps are non-cancerous growths on the inside of the nose, more specifically, that line nasal passages. The polyps can also attach to sinuses. Chronic inflammation causes the polyps to occur.
- Non-allergy rhinitis hasn’t been linked to a specific condition, though it is characterized by congestion, sneezing and a runny nose. It is reminiscent of an allergic reaction to hay fever, which is why a doctor’s diagnosis is recommended. This condition is most common in adults that are over the age of twenty, however, it can also present in children.
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a virus that can spread through the air or by direct contact and is dangerous to persons who are immune-compromised. It is a common condition that occurs both in children and adults. The symptoms usually are very mild, but RSV affects lungs and the respiratory tract, causing infections.
- Influenza – the flu – attacks the respiratory system, causing congestion as it affects the nose. It also attacks the throat and lungs. It is not the same as the stomach flu, which causes diarrhea and vomiting, but it can be deadly, though in most cases it dissipates on its own. Children younger than five and adults over 65 may experience a higher risk for complications related to flu. Persons who have compromised or weak immune systems are also at a greater risk for complications. Influenza presents at first like the common cold, but is differentiated by aches, chills, and fever.
Uncomfortable nasal congestion can be treated with home remedies that keep the nasal passages moist. Using a humidifier can help, as can other remedies that increase moisture for dry nostrils, including a hot shower, over the counter nasal saline spray or a neti pot, drinking fluids for hydration and breathing in steam from a teapot or from a towel that is moistened with warm water. Your doctor may also recommend antihistamines or cold medications.
If symptoms of nasal congestion persist then sufferers should seek a doctor’s diagnosis. Only a doctor can determine if the symptoms are caused by a more serious condition. The ear, nose and throat specialists at Nasal & Sinus Center of Austin have extensive experience in the medical evaluation and treatment of all forms of nasal and sinus disorders, including cutting-edge, minimally invasive surgical procedures when surgery is necessary. Dr. Zachary D. Wassmuth, Dr. Yi-Hsuan Emmy Wu, and Dr. Latif Dharamsi enjoy an exceptional reputation for providing comprehensive and innovative solutions, and they receive referrals from all over the United States.