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Congestion; its Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


A stuffy nose, difficulty breathing, snotty-thick nasal mucus secretions which may be colored or clear are all distinct properties of congestion.

Nasal Congestion is caused by an inflammation or swelling of the blood vessels found in the mucus membrane tissues that line the nasal passages and sinus cavities. The body’s normal response to irritation and swelling is to produce more mucus however excess nasal mucus which cannot drain freely from the nasal passages or sinus cavities becomes blocked in these areas causing congestion. 

We inhale through our nasal passages an average of 50 times per second. As we inhale, the inhaled air moves past the nasal mucus picking up essential moisture. The moisture from the nasal mucus is needed to ensure the inhaled air that reaches the lungs is moist however as this occurs, nasal mucus begins to dry out and becomes less fluid in nature.

Newborn infants are termed “obligate nasal breathers”. This means that breathe primarily through their nostrils. If these airways become blocked, it becomes hard for the baby to breastfeed and does put excessive stress on any new parents.

A main concern with any trapped or stagnant mucus that is drying out is that it can provide a superb environment in which bacteria can thrive. This is the main reason behind one developing a sinus infection soon after congestion.

What are the Symptoms of Nasal Congestion?
  • During congested periods, hearing may be affected and the ability to correctly articulate words may be hampered.
  • Otitis media (middle ear infection)
  • Pain and pressure may be experienced in the cheek, forehead, temple and eye areas.
  • Pain and pressure may also be felt in the nasal passages and deep nasal tissues.
  • One may experience interrupted sleep when suffering with nasal congestion
  • A fever and high-body temperature may be present when the trapped nasal mucus becomes infected.

What are the Causes of Nasal Congestion?
  • An allergy attack (every-day or hayfever allergies)
  • A bout of the cold or flu
  • Congestion can be a result of gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Any anatomical irregularities such as a deviated septum can cause congestion.
  • Any sinus infection or sinusitis can cause congestion
  • Certain medications do come with side effects which may include congestion or nasal stuffiness. Be sure to read any contraindications or check with your Doctor or GP.
  • An increase in the production of nasal mucus can be experienced around times when ones hormones are fluctuating. These times can include menopause, pregnancy and menstruation.
  • Non-Allergic Rhinitis can lead to the development of congestion if nasal mucus is not able to drain freely.

What treatments are available for Nasal Congestion?

It is crucial that the exact cause of the nasal congestion is identified and treated to ensure one achieves long-term relief from congestion.

If congestion is caused by a cold of flu, it is essential that the cold or flu be treated as the congested symptoms should subside as the cold or flu passes.

If your congestion is a result of allergies, antihistamines may be prescribed and a recommendation made to avoid any allergen causing items where possible. A suitable nasal decongestant may also be prescribed in the form of a nasal spray.

A warm compress can be placed on the face to help stimulate mucus drainage and help soothe pain and discomfort.

If one has nasal congestion that is not linked to an allergy, a nasal decongestant spray can be used alone; however some of these treatments do contain corticosteroids which can cause rebound congestion. Rebound congestion means that one may experience a significant reduction in their congestion upon taking the nasal spray however symptoms do return some time after and are intensified.

A netti pot or nasal irrigator may be used to help liquefy any trapped or thick mucus in the nasal passages and sinus cavities. During this treatment, a small “genie shaped” jar which contains preservative free and sterilized salt water is allowed to drain freely into one nostril and by maneuvering the head whilst pouring, drain freely with any excess mucus out of the opposite nostril.

Treating congestion in infants is however a little trickier as their bodies are extremely delicate and can therefore not handle regular treatments. A nasal aspirator can therefore be used in the treatment of congestion in infants to help remove excess sticky mucus from the nasal passages. A humidifier can also be placed in the child’s room during the night to help raise the moisture content in the air thereby ensuring nasal mucus remains moist and can drain easily. It is important that all humidifiers be cleaned regularly to prevent the development of mold and fungi which can lead to fungal sinusitis.

When diagnosing congestion in young children, be sure to identify if the congestion is occurring in one or both nostrils. If it is only present in one nostril be sure to check if there is nothing lodged inside the blocked nostril as children often have an affinity for sticking objects in their nostrils and ears.

Always try to increase your intake of fluids to help keep nasal mucus moist. Any dehydrating agents such as caffeine or alcohol should be avoided during times of congestion to help prevent any further drying out of nasal mucus.

One can use essential oil containing Vaseline solutions which are placed around the nostrils to help open up the pathways for nasal mucus to drain. As these pathways are opened, breathing is made easier.

As congestion can often result in pain being experienced in certain areas of the face, a pain killer is usually recommended to accompany any prescribed treatment.

  Natural Products that deal with Congestion
SinusWars1 - Allergy Force (Comprehensive Allergy Treatment)

SinusWars1 - Allergy Force - (Comprehensive Hayfever and Allergy Treatment)

  • Deals with - Allergies - Hayfever - Sneezing - A runny nose - Congested sinuses - Headaches and pain.

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OriNasal Clear Remedy - Nasal Decongestant

SinusWars70 - OriNasal Clear

  • Treats - Headaches - congestion - pressure - facial pain - toothache - itchiness in the nose - post nasal drip - loss of taste and smell - sneezing - watery nasal discharge

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SinusWars14 - Sinu-Nurse (General Sinusitis Remedy)

SinusWars14 - Sinu-Nurse -(General Sinusitis Remedy)

  • Treats - Congestion - Sinus Infections - Post Nasal Drip - Halitosis - Pressure - headaches - Rhinitis

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SinusWars7 - Super Unblocker (Blocked Nasal Passages & Inflammation)

SinusWars7 - Super Unblocker - (Blocked Nasal Passages and Inflammation)

  • Deal with - Blocked Nasal Passages - Inflammation - Congestion - Heavy pressure - Sinus infection - Dried nasal passages

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