Nasal Congestion Causes and Relief

Nasal congestion is defined as anything that irritates or inflames the sinuses. There are several reasons why you may experience this type of discomfort, some of which are not related to illness. Understanding these causes may help you better manage your symptoms or better identify when it may be time to pay your doctor a visit.


According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. So it’s no surprise that allergies are among the leading causes of nasal congestion. Allergies are the result of your body reacting, negatively, to some external substance, whether that’s something that you’ve ingested or the environment in which you are in. The inflammatory response that your body has causes the congestion, as well as other symptoms like sneezing, itching and a running nose. Symptoms can usually be treated with over-the-counter allergy medication. In some cases, strong medication, like that prescribed by a doctor may be required to achieve nasal congestion relief.

Acute Sinusitis

This common nasal problem occurs when the cavities in your passages become swollen and inflamed. When this happens, your sinuses are unable to drain properly, causing mucus to build up. You’ll experience difficulty breathing and areas around your sinuses, like your eyes and forehead may feel swollen or even painful to the touch. A cold virus is usually the cause of acute sinusitis. Though it may sound serious, this health problem is usually treatable with at-home remedies like fluids, rest and moist air, which helps to open up the nasal passages and relieve nasal congestion. Try to avoid dry indoor spaces since this type of environment can can exacerbate congestion and make mucus more dense. If symptoms don’t subside after 12 weeks, you may have chronic sinusitis, a more serious condition often requiring prescription medication.


The flu is a serious viral infection that attacks your respiratory systems and can be highly contagious or even fatal, if left untreated. If you have the flu, you’re likely to experience a wide variety of unpleasant symptoms including congestion, fever, muscle aches, and fatigue, among others. Children under the age of 5 and older adults over age 65 are those most likely to contract this virus. However, if you have a chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, or an autoimmune disease, you are also more likely to get the flu from others who are infected. Rest and plenty of fluids usually cure the flu and the congestion that it accompanies it. A humidifier can provide relief while you are resting indoors or trying to sleep as the moisture helps to loosen up congestion-related phlegm. If symptoms persist, antiviral medication may be prescribed by your doctor.

Common Cold

Like the flu, the common cold is caused by a virus of the upper respiratory tract. Though usually not life-threatening, the common cold can be is often accompanied by a host of unpleasant physical symptoms that can feel very serious. Congestion, a sore throat, constant coughing, body aches and a fever are just a few of the symptoms people experience when they have the common cold. The mucus that causes your congestion may appear thicker and of a yellow or green color when it comes out of your nose. However, you shouldn’t be alarmed as this is simply your bodies way of trying to eliminate the virus. A nasal decongestant spray can be used for up to five days to reduce congestion symptoms. Doctors do not recommend this form of relief for children under the age of six. However, chicken soup and other warm fluids are safe and effective alternatives that help loosen congestion.

Nasal congestion is uncomfortable and can easily interfere with your daily activities. In addition, there are are numerous reasons why you may be experiencing this health issue. Fortunately, no matter what the cause, there are many safe and easy remedies you can apply to help you get the relief that you need.

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