What is Nasal Congestion?
Congestion is also referred to as a stuffy nose, nasal obstruction or nasal blockage. This condition causes blockage of the nasal passages when the lining of the membranes in the nose become swollen and inflamed.
Nasal congestion is often caused by a viral infection. People who have allergic reactions, colds and flu are no doubt familiar with that feeling of congestion. It can severely affect infants in their first few months of life, by not only causing breathing difficulties but also problems with breastfeeding. It affects speech and hearing and may also cause sleep disorders such snoring and sleep apnea.
Older children who may develop nasal congestion from enlarged adenoids may experience sleep apnea or heart failure, but with surgery, this problem can easily be corrected. Once you have determined the cause of congestion, there are a number of treatment options available.
Symptoms and signs
The common symptoms and signs of nasal congestion include:
- Common colds or flu are often associated with a clear, watery discharge together with cough, headache, joint and muscle aches or sore throat
- Hay fever is often associated with a clear, watery discharge, sneezing and itching eyes
- Sinus infection is often associated with a thick, yellowish-green nasal discharge and pain around the eyes and forehead
- Vasomotor rhinitis is often associated with sneezing, itching eyes, stuffy or runny nose
Diagnosing Nasal Congestion
In order to confirm the diagnosis of nasal congestion, your health practitioner will check your symptoms as well as perform a physical examination. A thorough check of your ears, nose, throat and upper respiratory system will be done. Certain tests such as allergy skin tests, blood tests, sputum or throat culture, x-rays of the sinuses, chest x-ray and immunoglobin tests may also be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.
What Causes Nasal Congestion?
The causes of nasal congestion include:
Help for Nasal Congestion
Over-the-counter medication such as decongestants and antihistamine pills usually helps to relieve congestion. Be careful not to abuse these types of medications, as they have some harsh side effects such as swelling in the nasal passages, and may also cause drowsiness.
More gentle solutions are often more helpful to make breathing more comfortable – apply a warm, moist towel to your face or inhale steam, prepare your own saltwater solution by mixing a ½ teaspoon salt to two cups of water, eat warm chicken soup or place breathing strips across the bridge of your nose. If a baby experiences congestion, an infant nasal aspirator is used to remove excess mucus. If the symptoms of congestion become more serious, stronger, prescription medication will be prescribed.
Herbal and homeopathic remedies are an effective natural alternative for congestion relief. These remedies are safe and gentle for the body without the harsh side effects of conventional medication.
Two well known herbs such as Quercitin contain anti-oxidants and help to boost immunity and promote healthy circulation while Euphrasia officinalis (Eyebright) supports vision and eye health. Homeopathic ingredients such as Arsen alb, Nat. mur. and Kali mur. benefit the skin, nervous system and liver health.