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Nasal Congestion

Written by Dr.Mary

What is Nasal Congestion?

Nasal congestion also referred to a “stuffy nose” develops when nasal blood vessels and tissues swell with surplus fluid, causing a “stuffed up” feeling. This congestion can be triggered by influenza, a cold, allergies to items such as pollen, pet dander, dust or as a reaction to many irritants for instance cigarette smoke. Many individuals have a chronic nasal congestion for no obvious reason. This is a condition referred to as “non-allergic rhinitis”. Congestion of the nasal passages can also be linked to nasal discharge or basically a “runny nose”.

This type of congestion normally is only an aggravation for adults and older children. But congestion in infants is very serious because it disrupts nursing and breathing.

Nasal Congestion Symptoms

Symptoms and signs of nasal congestion include:

  • Swollen nasal membrane lining
  • Inflamed nasal blood vessels
  • Excessive mucus
  • Interference with ears, hearing and speech
  • Interference with sleep
  • Snoring
  • Sleep apnea
  • Enlarged adenoids
  • Insufficient levels of oxygen
  • Right side heart failure
  • Mild head and facial pain
  • Green or yellow nasal discharge
  • Cough from drainage in back of throat especially at night

Nasal Congestion Causes

Possible causes of nasal congestion can include:

  • Lights that are bright
  • Acute sinusitis
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Chickenpox
  • Temperatures that are cold
  • Overuse of decongestant nasal sprays
  • Common cold
  • Septum that is deviated
  • Addiction to some drug
  • Air that is dry
  • Allergy to dust mites
  • Foreign body in nose
  • Food allergies
  • Hay fever
  • Changes in hormones
  • Flu
  • Allergy to latex
  • Medications
  • Allergy to milk
  • Allergy to mold
  • Nasal polyps
  • Allergy to peanuts
  • Allergy to pet dander
  • Allergy to shellfish
  • Foods that are spicy
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Thyroid problems
  • Stress
  • Tobacco smoke

Nasal Congestion Treatment

For adults and older children the treatment of nasal congestion can include:

  • Over-the-counter medicines
  • Decongestants to shrink the nasal blood vessels
  • Nasal drops or sprays
  • Antihistamines to reduce mucus

Medications are not the only method to treat nasal congestion. Below are measures to thin the mucus and nasal secretions:

  • Use of saline nasal spray
  • Increase humidity in the room with humidifier or vaporizer
  • Drink more fluids including hot tea, chicken soup or broth
  • Keep head elevated
  • Adhesive nasal strips to widen the nostrils

For younger children and infants, treatment can include:

  • Saline nasal drops
  • Use of nasal bulb to remove mucus
  • Raising the head of the child’s bed
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Cool-mist vaporizer for the room
  • Steam in the bathroom shower

Nasal sprays, cough and cold medications are not recommended for children under the age of 2.

Your primary care physician needs to be called if your child or you experience:


  • Stuffy nose with swollen eyes, cheek, side of the face or forehead
  • Stuffy nose with vision that is blurred
  • Pain in the throat or yellow or white spots on tonsils or areas of the throat
  • Cough lasting longer than 10 days
  • Cough that involves gray or green-yellow mucus
  • Nasal congestion lasting longer than two weeks or that interferes significantly with daily activities

Nasal Congestion Home Remedies

There are plenty of plant or herbal remedies that help with congestion of the nasal passages. Listed are several recipes that have worked great for other people:

Garlic Juice

Get fresh garlic bulbs and take about 4 cloves peeling off the papery covering and cut into small pieces. Get a full cup of water. Boil the pieces of garlic with the water for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. After this juice cools down, drink it. Do this daily for nasal congestion. If you do not like the smell or taste of garlic afterwards, drink some tea mixed with slices of ginger.

Tomato juice

Add 1 cup of tomato juice with 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh garlic, ½ teaspoon of hot sauce, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and a pinch or 2 of celery salt. Heat all the ingredients and drink hot.

Other home remedies include consuming pungent or spicy foods. Chicken soup with heavy doses of black pepper seems to work well as do some ethnic foods known for being spicy. Many individuals get relief after eating spicy Indian, Mexican or Chinese dishes that have hot peppers in them.

Nasal Congestion During Pregnancy

Women when pregnant often have problems with nasal congestion because of the increased flow of blood thru the body. A clogged nose can lead to problems breathing, speaking, hearing and interferes with the pregnant woman’s sleep routine.

Getting plenty of rest and sleep is important while pregnant and many women have found relief or reduction in nasal congestion by sleeping on one side or with the head elevated. Other suggestions include:

  • Saline nasal drops
  • Wet, warm towel against the face
  • Inhaling steam
  • Increasing humidity in the air with humidifier or vaporizer
  • Drinking lots of fresh fruit juices and water
  • Hot tea, broth or soup helps in thinning mucus
  • Add onion or garlic to regular meals
  • Foods rich in vitamin A for instants mangoes, leafy vegetables, papayas, tomatoes, carrots, eggs, and yogurt help to prevent infections
  • Vitamin C helps form healthy epithelium tissues

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