The occasional stuffed nose is no big deal. But, living constantly with a stuffy nose is very unpleasant.
Breathing through your nose is important, after all. Your nose filters, warms up and humidifies the air you breathe. The mucus that lines the inside of the nose traps dirt, mold, pollen, and any other pollutants that might get into your lungs.
So, when your nose is chronically misbehaving, the consequences can be serious. Unfortunately, it is often very difficult to figure out the causes of chronic nasal congestion.
Common Causes of Chronic Nasal Congestion
The most common cause of nasal congestion is swelling of the membranes lining the nose. The trick is finding out what causes that inflammation.
Hay Fever or a seasonal allergy to various environmental triggers such as pollen, grass or trees can cause chronic nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, a runny nose and watery eyes.
And while nasal decongestants help with the symptoms, they will not cure the allergy. You might need to consult your doctor to determine what exactly is causing your allergic reaction.
Allergies to other allergens such as pet dander or mold can also cause chronic nasal congestion. Nasal decongestant or allergy shots may help to relieve your symptoms.
Chronic rhinosinusitis or inflammation of the nasal lining and sinuses is another frequent cause of chronic nasal congestion. This is a serious condition and if untreated, can cause respiratory problems, sleep apnea and can affect your sense of smell and taste.
A deviated septum means that the bone dividing the nasal cavity in half is significantly off-center. This can definitely cause chronic nasal congestion, making breathing difficult.
Some people have a deviated septum from birth. Others get it from a nose injury or other trauma.
Medications or adhesive nose strips can help you to manage symptoms, but surgery is often the only way to fix the problem permanently.
Nasal polyps, sac-like growths in the inflamed lining of the nose, can cause chronic nasal congestion, but can also completely block air from passing through the nose. Polyps are caused by many factors, such as asthma, chronic sinusitis, allergies or cystic fibrosis.
Some medications, such as steroid nose sprays, can help with the symptoms. But, these sprays are unlikely to get rid of the polyps. Often, surgery is necessary.
Chronic Nasal Congestion Symptoms
The most common chronic nasal congestion symptoms are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sleep apnea
- Sore or dry throat
- Sinus pressure
While each of these chronic nasal congestion symptoms can be relieved by various medications, particularly nasal decongestants, they do not treat the problem.
Chronic Nasal Congestion Treatment
An effective chronic nasal congestion treatment depends on the underlying cause. While this can be tough to find, especially if it’s an allergy, once you know the cause, you can find the appropriate treatment.
Until you can find the true cause for your chronic nasal congestion, you can make your life, and breathing, little easier by a range of decongestants available on and off the counter. However, one problem with decongestants is that you can get used to them. They can start having the opposite effect and make you more congested.
Some of the more popular natural nasal decongestants are:
- rinsing your nose with saline water or sea water
- eating spicy foods
- smelling garlic
- smelling horseradish
- smelling onions
- smelling peppermint and eucalyptus oil
- A simple steam bath, with your head over a tray with hot water