Nasal Congestion: Causes, Home Remedies, and Treatment

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Nasal congestion can impact your daily activities and diminish your quality of life. Constant sniffling or mouth breathing usually makes it challenging to perform simple tasks. Richard L. Nass, M.D., F.A.C.S., offers noninvasive East Hampton nasal congestion interventions to relieve symptoms and treat nasal inflammation.

What causes nasal congestion?

One common misconception about nasal congestion is that it is due to mucus buildup. But the runny nose is usually due to inflammation of the nasal sinuses.

The sinuses are air-filled cavities located behind and around the nose. They warm and humidify the air before it passes into your lungs.

Sinuses inflammation can occur after exposure to allergies, pollutants, or dry air. Cold, flu, and viral infections may also trigger nasal congestion.

Inflammation of the nasal sinuses forces the nasal cavity to release more mucus to flush out the impurities irritating the sinuses. Mild cases of nasal congestion may last between seven days and four weeks.

But some patients with conditions like asthma and immune disorders may have recurring episodes of nasal congestion.

Mild cases of sinus inflammation could disappear without interventions or treatment. But severe symptoms require medication and, in rare cases, surgery.

Home remedies for nasal congestion

One of the principal functions of the sinuses is to warm and humidify the air entering the nasal cavity. Breathing in vapor from a humidifier reduces the strain caused by inflammation and soothes the sinuses. Similarly, steam from a hot shower also relieves irritation from the sinuses.

You may also use a nasal irrigator, but it is always advisable to use distilled water. Distilled water does not contain minerals or impurities that could irritate the sinuses. Nasal irrigation flushes debris or mucus from the nasal cavity to reduce inflammation and facilitate normal breathing.

It’s also advisable to take lots of water and fluids throughout the day. Hydrating your body with fluids thins out the mucus and relieves sinus blockages.

Prop up your head when sleeping to allow the mucus to flow unobstructed and enhance nasal breathing. Make a point of washing your hands after using a handkerchief to avoid spreading the infection.

Treatment options for nasal congestion

Several over-the-counter and prescription medications are available for relieving symptoms of nasal congestion. The factors causing the sinus inflammation will determine the best treatment for your case.

For example, if the cause of the irritation is an allergen, antihistamines can manage symptoms quickly. Antihistamine sprays can relieve sneezing, coughing, and running nose. They are primarily meant for short-term cases and may cause side effects such as drowsiness.

Another class of drugs is decongestants for managing symptoms of nasal congestion. They reduce swelling in the nasal cavity to restore normal breathing. Decongestants are usually in the form of nasal sprays.

You must avoid using decongestants and antihistamines for extended periods. Consider consulting your doctor if your nasal congestion symptoms do not reduce within three days. Your healthcare provider will run tests and prescribe medication with minimal risks of side effects.

Contact Richard L. Nass, M.D., F.A.C.S., to learn more about nasal congestion treatments.