Nasal congestion

Nasal congestion

What is nasal congestion?

Nasal congestion refers to the blockage of the nose that makes breathing difficult. Nasal congestion is also called a stuffy nose. It is often a symptom of other health problems, such as a sinus infection or a common cold.  

It mostly occurs due to swelling of adjacent tissues and blood vessels inside your nose due to excess fluids. Usually, nasal congestion causes no serious health issues other than some minor discomforts.  

However, in babies, it often leads to feeding issues, and for some adults, nasal congestion disrupts sleep.  

In this blog, we will see the nasal congestion symptoms, causes and possible treatments.  

What are the causes of nasal congestion?

Nasal congestion occurs when your nose becomes puffed up and swollen. It also arises out of the increased discharge of mucous in your nose. In some rare cases, nasal congestion occurs due to tumours inside the nose.  

Some common causes that result in increased mucous secretion or swelling of tissues inside the nose are:

  • Having allergies or getting exposed to dust, pollen, etc.
  • Infections such as flu, common cold, sinus infection, etc.
  • Due to some irritants that include tobacco smoke and certain fragrances
  • Taking certain medications such as for hypertension, seizures, etc.
  • Enlarged adenoids (soft tissues behind the nose)
  • Lack of humidity in atmospheric air, dry hot or cold air
  • Supplemental oxygen usage
  • Structural problems in the neck or head make breathing difficult

Some other potential causes of nasal congestion include:

  • Having asthma
  • Acute/chronic sinusitis
  • Over-usage of nasal spray
  • Some spicy foods
  • Hormonal changes
  • Nasal polyps
  • Respiratory syncytial virus  
  • Tremendous stress
  • Sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea
  • Non-allergic rhinitis (sneezing or nasal congestion not related to allergies)

Nasal congestion also commonly occurs during pregnancy, especially at the end of the first trimester. This is caused due to the intensification of blood flow that arises from hormonal changes during pregnancy.  

What are the causes of long-term nasal congestion?

Some reasons that explain the long-term nasal congestion are:

  • Hay fever
  • Growth of non-cancerous tumours such as nasal polyps or benign tumours
  • Chemical exposures
  • Deviated septum
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Environmental pollution

 Nasal congestion symptoms 

Nasal congestion symptoms are often openly visible. However, you do not always bleed whenever you experience nasal congestion.  

Usually, nasal congestion symptoms are temporary and occur only for a short duration. But if the nasal congestion symptoms persist for a long time, for instance, more than a week, you need to see a doctor.  

Nasal congestion COVID 

In this pandemic situation, there are chances that you may experience nasal congestion as a result of COVID-19 infection. It is evident that nasal congestion is one of the common symptoms of COVID-19.  

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are cold, flu and allergies that may be associated with nasal congestion. This does not mean that you are infected, but it is necessary to consult a doctor to make sure that it is ruled out and also you don’t spread the infection to others.

Nasal congestion gets worse day by day if you have such infections. Nasal congestion is not as severe as the flu or seasonal cold.

Nasal congestion at night

Nasal congestion is bad, and it even gets more at night. People with nasal congestion struggle to sleep at night because of a blockage in the nose.  

Sleep helps to heal infections, and nasal congestion may be a hindrance to getting good sleep. Drink hot water to get relief. This might be temporary but will help you to sleep a little.

Always have the things you need beside your bed, like tissues and water, to avoid walking at night.  

When you have congestion in your nose, you tend to breathe through your mouth. This will cause dryness in your throat; to avoid this, have some honey. People with sore throats and coughs make it more difficult to sleep, and honey acts as a cough suppressant and helps you to sleep well.

A steam shower may help you to sleep better and loosen the blocked nose.

One side nasal congestion

Deviated septum is caused when a thin wall between your nasal passage gets displaced and blocks one side of your nose.  

One-sided nasal congestion makes it hard to breathe. When you develop an infection, it can cause your nasal passage to swell, and one-sided congestion occurs.

What are the home remedies available for nasal congestion?

If you struggle with nasal congestion, one thing that you can focus on is keeping your nose moist. Because letting it dry will only worsen the condition.  

You may wonder how keeping your nose in a moist state will help with running nose. If you let your nose dry when you have a running nose, it will aggravate your symptoms.  

There are specific ways using which you can keep your nose moist. They are:

  • Use vaporisers or humidifiers to reduce the dryness.
  • Intake lots of fluids. This will help remove nasal stuffiness.  
  • Try using the nasal saline spray. This will keep your nasal passages moist.
  • Try avoiding chlorinated swimming pools. This may irritate your nasal area.
  • Taking long showers will help clear the blockages.
  • You can also breathe in steam from a pot of warm water.
  • Try a micro-current wave device. This device, when placed on the face, produces vibrations that help relieve your blockage.
  • Place a warm and wet towel taken from the hot water on your face.
  • Prop up your head while sleeping by keeping an extra pillow under your head. This will elevate the position of your nose and help reduce nasal congestion at night.

Home remedy for nasal congestion during pregnancy

Nasal congestion during pregnancy is common, and the medical term is Pregnancy Rhinitis. It might be because of weight gain during pregnancy and hormonal changes, which is common during the pregnancy phase.  

The other causes of nasal congestion during pregnancy are increased blood flow to the nasal passage and enlargement of nasal veins. Home remedies may work, but pregnant women should be careful when treating self.  

Some women use over-the-counter sprays or medication that may be harmful. These medications can give short-term relief but may worsen your condition. It is always wise to consult a doctor before treating yourself.

Make sure to increase your fluid intake. Keep moving and try to get some fresh air. When you move frequently, the air passage may ease your nasal congestion.

Not all home remedies are safe, especially during pregnancy. Consult your doctor before taking any medication.

When do you need to see a doctor?

Sometimes, only the home remedies will not be sufficient to help you relieve discomfort from nasal congestion. You may need to consult your doctor if you experience any of the following situations:

  • You have symptoms more than 7 to 10 days
  • You experience a high fever
  • You experience pain in your sinus  
  • Your mucous discharge is in green or yellow in colour
  • You discharge blood along with mucous

In babies and children, nasal congestion causes more trouble than in adults. It gives rise to feeding problems in children and sometimes can even lead to fatal breathing troubles.  

It is very important to address this condition sooner. In the case of children, you need to see a doctor immediately if:

  • The child experiences nasal congestion and is less than 2 months
  • The child experiences trouble in breathing
  • The child discharges too much mucous and other nasal secretions and experiences a heavy running nose

Until you visit a doctor for babies and small children, you can remove nasal secretions using a soft rubber-bulb syringe.  

What are the treatments available for nasal congestion?

Your doctor will usually suggest using over-the-counter medications for nasal congestion treatment to resolve the issue. At times, the doctor will also prescribe some antibiotics and steroids to ease the symptoms.  

Your doctor may recommend nasal corticosteroid sprays and oral antihistamines to deal with nasal congestion.  

Often make sure to consult your doctor before using any over-the-counter medications. Because if you experience nasal congestion due to some other health condition, the drugs you take may interfere with your persistent health condition and may lead to undesirable side effects.  

A word of concern

Nevertheless, nasal congestion is not a concerning health condition for adults. But, it doesn’t mean that you can ignore, and not worry about it.  

With appropriate home care treatments, you can get yourself relieved from this condition. But if the symptoms persist, it becomes essential for you to go see your doctor before it gets any worse.  


1. How to clear nasal congestion naturally?

There are many ways that you can follow to clear nasal congestion naturally. That includes breathing steam from warm water, using pillows to elevate your head while sleeping and so on.

2. How to clear nasal congestion in babies?

You can remove nasal congestion in babies using a soft, rubber-ball syringe that swallows the nasal secretions and clears the congestion. You can also provide warm baths and drop a small amount of saline into their nostrils to clear the congestion.  

3. How long does nasal congestion last?

With proper home remedies, nasal congestion should not last more than a week. Often nasal congestion is a temporary phenomenon that arises for many reasons. If it lasts more than a week, you need to see a doctor.  

4. What happens if you sleep with a blocked nose?  

A blocked nose makes your breathing difficult. It affects the quality of your sleep. If you do not intervene in treating this condition, your nasal passage will get dry and worsen the condition. So, use additional pillows to elevate your head during your sleep. This will help clear the congestion.  

5. How to clear nasal congestion? 

A blocked nose can be cleared by using a nasal spray. Hydrate yourself, use a vaporiser and also take a hot shower may help to ease your nasal congestion.

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