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How to Treat Nasal Congestion and Sinus Pressure

How To Get Rid Of Nasal Congestion

What Is Nasal Congestion?

Nasal congestion, also known as a stuffy nose, is identified by the inflammation and swelling of the tissues and blood vessels inside the nose and surrounding area, which tends to create a “plugged” feeling throughout the sinuses.

Nasal congestion is commonly associated with the following problems:

  • Blocked nasal passages
  • A runny nose
  • Sinus pressure
  • Sinus pain
  • Excessive mucus buildup
  • Post nasal drip
  • A sore and swollen nose

 

What Causes Nasal Congestion

What Causes Nasal Congestion?

There are several possible physical and environmental conditions and ailments that can cause a “stuffy” congested nose.[*][*]

Some of the most common triggers are:

  • Allergies and hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  • A cold or influenza
  • COVID-19
  • Spicy foods
  • Foods and beverages containing histamines (especially fermented products, such as alcohol and dairy) 
  • Certain medications (WARNING: Consult your physician if you have questions about your medications)
  • Off-gases from chemicals, perfumes, cleaning products, smoke, or other airborne irritants
  • Sinusitis (sinus infections)
  • Nasal polyps
  • Deviated septum or other anatomical issues
  • Vasomotor rhinitis (a heightened sensitivity to stimuli)

How To Get Rid Of Nasal Congestion?

Nasal congestion is often a symptom of other conditions or ailments, such as allergies or a virus, affecting the body. Therefore, to clear it up, it’s important to remedy the underlying cause.[*][*]

However, it’s possible to relieve nasal congestion and other sinus issues, such as a runny nose or post nasal drip, with reactive measures like:

  • Using a humidifier or vaporizer
  • Taking a hot shower or steam bath
  • Hydrating with warm fluids, such as chicken noodle soup or tea
  • Use a nasal nebulizer as part of your daily nasal hygiene routine. Rinse your sinuses with a saline spray and moisturizer to reduce excessive mucus build-up
  • Applying hot facial compresses
  • Taking over-the-counter antihistamines (WARNING: Consult a healthcare professional taking any medications)
  • Taking over-the-counter decongestants (WARNING: Consult a healthcare professional taking any medications)
  • Exercising (with indoor physical activities to help reduce environmental triggers)
  • Propping your head up with a pillow when lying down

How Long Does Nasal Congestion Last?

How long a stuffy nose lasts depends on what is causing the sinus congestion. If, for example, the congestion is caused by a cold or the flu, it will probably endure for about as long as the illness lasts, which could be anywhere from 5 to 10 days or longer. Whereas, if a stuffy nose is the result of seasonal allergies, symptoms may last much longer and reappear with certain environmental triggers.

 

How to prevent nasal congestion

How To Prevent Nasal Congestion?

It’s almost impossible to prevent nasal congestion completely because we are always surrounded by allergens, bacteria, viruses, molds and other triggers that can cause us to become plugged up. However, by taking steps to protect ourselves, we can also limit how often we experience congestion and sinus pressure.[*][*]

To help prevent nasal congestion from allergic or environmental causes, such as hay fever or vasomotor rhinitis:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes and nose
  • Avoid triggers, such as dust, pollen, perfumes, smoke, and other irritants
  • Avoid food and beverages with high levels of histamines, such as alcohol and fermented dairy products
  • Wear a mask on days with bad air quality
  • Take a hot shower and rinse your sinuses with a saline solution before bed
  • Change your pillowcases and bedding often
  • Keep dust to a minimum
  • Close the windows and use AC when possible
  • Use air filters and purifiers when possible

To help prevent nasal congestion from bacterial or viral infections, such as the cold or flu:

  • Eat a well balanced diet
  • Exercise and maintain your health and wellness
  • Avoid stress and exhaustion
  • Limit or avoid consuming alcohol and tobacco
  • Get the flu shot (WARNING: Consult a physician to see if the flu shot is right for you)
  • Limit unnecessary physical contact, such as handshakes, to help prevent the spread of viruses
  • Wear a mask to limit the spread of airborne diseases

 

When to see a doctor for nasal congestion

When To See A Doctor For Nasal Congestion?

For most people, nasal congestion is nothing more than a nuisance. However, if a stuffy nose persists or is accompanied by more concerning problems, such as a high fever or bloody discharge, it might be a good idea to contact a healthcare professional.[*][*]

Contact a doctor if your nasal congestion:

  • Persist for longer than 10 days
  • Is accompanied by a high fever
  • Is accompanied by a yellow or green mucus discharge
  • Is accompanied by sinus pain or facial pressure
  • Is accompanied by swelling in the face, cheeks, or forehead
  • Is causing earaches, headaches, or trouble with your vision
  • Is accompanied by a bloody discharge

For children, contact a doctor if their nasal congestion:

  • Is accompanied by a fever and the child is under 2 months old
  • Is causing difficulty with breastfeeding or eating or drinking
  • Is causing problems with breathing
  • Is accompanied by swelling, pain, or pressure in the face, cheek, or forehead
  • Is causing difficulty with vision
  • Is accompanied by a yellow, green, or off-colored nasal discharge
  • Is accompanied by a bloody discharge
  • Is accompanied by a sore throat and/or visible signs of white or yellow spots on the tonsils

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