A stuffy nose, or nasal congestion, can be caused by several things, from allergies to abnormalities in the sinus cavities. Although most people think they have a cold when they get a stuffy nose, this symptom can occur from a number of health conditions. With a stuffy nose, the membranes of the nasal passages get inflamed from excess mucus or from an irritating element.
Causes and concerns
The main cause of stuffy nose is an infection, and a seasonal cold is the most common type. With a cold, you have a viral infection, which doesn’t respond to antibiotics, so it must run its course. A cold usually lasts seven to 10 days. With the help of over the counter medications, plenty of fluids and rest, you should start to feel better within a few days. The average child will catch up to six colds a year and the average adult will catch up to three a year. Other infections, such as a sinus infection (sinusitis), the most common type of bacterial nasal infection can also lead to a stuffy nose.
Allergic rhinitis caused by allergies is the second most common cause of a stuffy nose. An allergy is an inflammatory reaction to a pollutant that it is environmental, such as grass, dust, pollen, hay fever, mold or pet dander. If over the counter medications (such as Claritin, Zyrtec and Dimetane) do not work for you, then our allergy specialists may prescribe a prescription allergy medication. If those fail, allergy shots are also an option.
Another cause of a stuffy nose is structural abnormalities, which are usually noticed in childhood. Although adults can also develop structural abnormalities, most often they are the result of an injury later in life. Surgery is often the only option to correct structural abnormities of the nasal passages.
Symptoms and signs
When you blow your nose, the mucus should be clear. If the mucus is yellow or green then you may have developed a bacterial infection, which will require antibiotics. Viral infections may also cause discoloration of the mucus, so it’s important to visit a doctor if your symptoms worsen or don’t get better. You may also experience a fever, headache, pain behind your eyes, discomfort in the forehead area or pain in your cheeks. If these symptoms occur, you need to be evaluated by a medical professional.
With allergic rhinitis, symptoms include a stuffy nose, runny nose and watery eyes. If you have a persistent stuffy nose from allergies, our ear, nose and throat specialists can help. Consider seeing one of our competent doctors for an evaluation.