Nasal congestion is a condition in which a person’s nose is said to be stuffed up. This means the nose is hard to breath through, and patients may have the urge to blow it frequently. It is a common misconception that nose congestion is caused by excess mucus clogging a person’s nose. In fact, the mucus is not the problem. A person actually develops a stuffy nose when inflammation causes the lining of the nose to swell.
In most cases, nasal congestion is caused by some type of virus. For example, a person may experience it when he has a common cold. It can also develop because of allergies. A person can also experience a stuffy nose if he develops a sinus infection, which may be caused by a virus or bacteria. Additionally, some people cause a stuffy nose by overusing nasal spray products.
Nasal congestion can also develop as a symptom of a condition called vasomotor rhinitis. This condition is marked by nasal secretions, congestion, and sneezing that is not associated with an illness or allergy. Doctors are unsure of its cause.
For most people, nasal congestion is little more than a temporary annoyance. It usually passes quickly, clearing up as soon as the illness is over or after allergy treatment. Many people use over-the-counter cold medicines, decongestants, and antihistamines to treat it. Some people, however, prefer non-medicinal treatments. For example, a person may use saline sprays or drops to treat it; standing in a steaming shower or using a humidifier may help as well.
Often, nasal congestion gets worse once a person lies down. This can make it difficult to rest comfortably and sleep. To get around this, a person may elevate the back of his bed or even place extra pillows under his head. While this won’t eliminate the congestion, it may help the patient to stay comfortable enough to rest.
While congestion is usually just an unpleasant symptom of an illness or condition, it can be dangerous for some people. Newborn and very young babies must breath through their noses. If they cannot, they can become fussy and may have great difficulty nursing. In some rare cases, an infant may even develop breathing problems because of nasal congestion.
When it affects older children, nasal congestion is unlikely to cause life-threatening problems. It can, however, impair the development of normal speech and hearing. It can also cause snoring, both in children and adults.