A problem for many, nasal congestion can be troublesome. A stuffy nose along with a chest filled with mucus can make daily functioning difficult. Breathing can be hard too.
So, why do we have nasal congestion?
Nasal congestion happens when nasal tissues are irritated or inflamed by something. It could be anything ranging from colds, flu, allergies, or sinusitis. Nasal congestion can also be caused by irritants such as tobacco smoke and car exhaust. This condition is called non-allergic rhinitis or vasomotor rhinitis. Very rarely is nasal congestion the result of a tumor in the nasal passage?
Possible causes of nasal congestion are:
- Acute sinusitis (nasal and sinus infection)
- Alcohol consumption
- Chronic sinusitis
- Churg-Strauss syndrome, a rare disorder that causes the inflammation of blood vessels that affects the nose and sinuses and also the lungs, heart, intestines and nerves.
- Common cold
- Overuse of decongestant nasal spray
- Deviated septum, a condition in which the thin wall or nasal septum between the nasal passages is displaced to one side
- Dry air
- Enlarged adenoids that is a mass of enlarged lymphatic tissue between the back of the nose and the throat
- Spicy food
- A foreign body in the nose
- Granulomatosis with polyangiitis, again a rare disorder involving the inflammation of blood vessels
- Hormonal changes
- Influenza (flu) medications, especially those used for treating high blood pressure,
- Erectile dysfunction,
- Seizures and other conditions
- Nasal polyps
- Nonallergic rhinitis, which is a chronic condition unrelated to allergies
- Occupational asthma
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) that causes infections of the lungs or the respiratory tract
- Sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which there are frequent periods of pauses in breathing or intervals of shallow breathing
- Thyroid disorders
- Tobacco smoke
Dry air being a major cause of nasal congestion, a humidifier will help by adding moisture to the air, which in turn will increase the humidity in your nose and make it easier for you to breathe.
Inhaling steam from a bowl with hot water with a towel over your head can thin out and drain nasal mucus more easily, cleaning out the nasal passage for easy breathing. A hot shower can also make you feel better. When using it for children, be sure to use it with extreme care.
Saline nasal spray
OTC sprays are easily available and will help thin out your nasal passage. They may contain only salt and water and sometimes have an added decongestant. Prolonged use is not recommended as they can worsen symptoms.
A Neti pot is a nasal irrigation device that looks like a small teapot with a long spout and uses saline to unclog stuffy nasal passages. It is important to use and clean the Neti pot properly. It is generally not used for children unless recommended by a pediatrician.
A warm compress will also help by reducing inflammation of the nostrils, opening up the nasal passages from the outside.
Herbs and spices
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties whereas peppers, ginger, and garlic can trigger a condition called gustatory rhinitis, causing the body to make more mucus that leads to a runny nose thereby clearing the nasal passage.
Lying on your back and using an extra pillow to make sure that your head is at a slightly higher angle than the rest of your body can help prevent mucus from pooling in your sinuses at night also relieving sinus pressure.
Some research suggests that an essential oil spray containing peppermint, or eucalyptus, or oregano, or rosemary can be effective at improving upper respiratory symptoms immediately after use. Essential oils are better used when combined with a carrier oil or added to a diffuser.
The Essential Oils Aromatherapy Diffuser combines relaxation with fragrance. You can burn any essential oil you want. You can also use it as a humidifier to do away with your nasal congestion problems.
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