A stuffy nose is a constant source of irritation and discomfort for children and adults. Stuffiness may be due to sinus infections, allergies or other causes. Going further, you may have a stuffy nose only during a specific season or sometimes even all year round.
Here are a few tips to tackle a stuffy nose and nasal congestion.
- Avoid the causative agent:
- Seasonal allergies, certain perfumes, exposure to tobacco smoke or mold can cause nasal stuffiness, sneezing and watering. The best way to manage these is to avoid exposure.
- If there is a flu endemic around, you may want to observe a safe distance from infected individuals. Use surgical or N95 masks that give you reasonable protection from inciting agents.
- General measures such as not using wood-burning stoves and fireplaces for warming the room, proper upkeep of heater vents and avoiding strong scented cleaners and perfumes may help avoid allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the nostrils) or sinusitis.
- Saline drops for nasal irrigation:
- Nasal irrigation:
- Some individuals report a relief of symptoms when they perform nasal irrigation using syringes, neti pots or bottle sprayers.
- Nasal irrigation kits available in the pharmacy may be used to clean sinuses and thus relieve nasal congestion.
- Make sure you learn the procedure well because unsterile neti pots and using tap water for irrigation may result in life-threatening meningitis.
- Drink plenty of water, chicken broth or juices since these will help counteract the adverse events of antihistamines, such as a dry mouth and throat.
- Drinking warm fluids promotes sinus drainage and soothes the throat. Fluids such as bone broth, clear soups and chicken soups can help make you feel better.
- One of the best ways to help with a stuffy nose is to use warm mist humidifiers that moisten the air, sinus cavities and oral passages and help relieve symptoms.
- These require regular cleaning and maintenance. For safety reasons, prefer using a cool-mist humidifier if there are children in the house.
- Application of warm facial compresses:
- Sleep with your head elevated:
- This helps drain your sinuses and facilitate reducing congestion. In addition, piling pillows under your neck as you sleep may relieve a stuffy nose.
- Antihistamines, decongestants, steroid sprays and nasal sprays containing oxymetazoline may help with rhinitis symptoms. In some cases, oral medication may be needed. Rarely, a surgeon may advise surgery (in case of a severely deviated nasal septum or polyps).
What causes a stuffy nose?
Causes of a stuffy nose may include:
- Allergic rhinitis: It may be triggered by exposure to indoor or outdoor allergens, such as dust mites, dander and pollen.
- Nasal polyps: These may be single or multiple and may be due to long-term allergies, drug sensitivities, asthma or immune reactions.
- Deviated nasal septum: A deviated nasal septum may be present from birth, due to an injury or from a surgical procedure and may cause repeated episodes of a stuffy nose.
- Upper respiratory tract infection: Seasonal flu, chronic sinusitis and the common cold can cause a runny nose and inflammation of the nasal passages, along with a productive cough (cough with mucus) and mild fever.
- Occupational rhinitis: Due to exposure to a potential allergen at the workplace, individuals in certain professions, such as baking, livestock breeding, farming, working at construction sites and working in drug manufacturing plants, may develop workplace allergies.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) rhinitis: Individuals who use CPAP machines for the management of obstructive sleep apnea often develop nasal stuffiness.
- Rhinitis medicamentosa: Overuse of xylometazoline and oxymetazoline nasal sprays to treat stuffiness may cause constant and rebound nasal congestion.
- Medication-induced rhinitis: Birth control pills containing estrogen and progesterone, antihypertensive medications such as angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors (ACEI), diuretics, erectile dysfunction drugs and certain classes of antidepressants cause stuffiness in the nose.
- Rhinitis of pregnancy: Rhinitis associated with pregnancy is when a pregnant woman develops nasal congestion in the last months of pregnancy in absence of other signs of respiratory tract infection or allergies. This condition gets relieved on its own post the delivery.
Is a stuffy nose a sign of COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a viral infection that primarily targets your respiratory passages and lungs. Runny nose, stuffiness of nasal cavity, fever, sore throat and fatigue are symptoms seen in the seasonal cold and COVID-19 infection. While not every case of a stuffy nose points to COVID-19, if you are not sure where the infection came from, you have been in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 or you experience high fever along with shortness of breath, you should call your doctor to get tested the virus and start treatment if needed.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top How Do You Relieve a Stuffy Nose Related Articles
Allergies QuizWhat are the causes of allergies? This online quiz challenges your knowledge of common food and household allergens, environmental triggers, allergic diseases and conditions, and allergy symptoms and treatments.
Allergy (Allergies)An allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. When these allergens come in contact with the body, it causes the immune system to develop an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to it. It is estimated that 50 million North Americans are affected by allergic conditions. The parts of the body that are prone to react to allergies include the eyes, nose, lungs, skin, and stomach. Common allergic disorders include hay fever, asthma, allergic eyes, allergic eczema, hives, and allergic shock.
Plant and Tree AllergiesFind out more about which plants and trees might be producing pollen that is causing your itchy eyes and a runny nose.
Chronic Rhinitis and Post-Nasal DripChronic rhinitis and post-nasal drip symptoms include an itchy, runny nose, sneezing, itchy ears, eyes, and throat. Seasonal allergic rhinitis (also called hay fever) usually is caused by pollen in the air. Perennial allergic rhinitis is a type of chronic rhinitis and is a year-round problem, often caused by indoor allergens, such as dust, animal dander, and pollens that may exist at the time. Treatment of chronic rhinitis and post nasal drip are dependent upon the type of rhinitis condition.
Coronavirus COVID-19 Prevention: Test Your Medical IQWhat's really the best way to prevent the spread of new coronavirus COVID-19? Should wear a mask or not? Take this quiz to find out!
Coronavirus: How COVID-19 Affects Your BodyBy now, everyone knows about COVID-19. But do you know how it can affect your body?
Deviated SeptumA deviate septum is a condition that may require surgery. With a deviated septum, the bone and cartilage that divide the nasal cavity of the nose in half (nasal septum) is significantly off-center or crooked. The causes of a deviated septum can be congenital, or develop after a trauma or injury to the nose. Symptoms of a deviated septum include:
- nasal congestion,
- recurrent sinus infections,
- facial pain,
- postnasal drip,
- and loud breathing.
How Can I Help My Baby With a Stuffy Nose?It is distressing to all mothers to see their little ones with a stuffy nose and a cold. When your baby is irritable and does not eat, it makes you and your whole family anxious. Fortunately, there are various ways to help your baby with a stuffy nose including steam inhalation, hydration, using tissues and other strategies.
How Do I Stop Sneezing and a Runny Nose?When you have a cold, certain chemicals (histamines) are secreted by your body; these may lead to sneezing, a runny nose, and watery eyes.
How Do You Know if You Have a Sinus Infection (Sinusitis) or COVID-19 Coronavirus?Learn how the signs and symptoms of a sinus infection are different from those caused by COVID-19.
Lung Disease & Respiratory Health: Should I Get a COVID-19 Antibody Test?If you had COVID-19 symptoms but never got tested, or if you have long-term symptoms that just won't go away, you may want to get an antibody test. It can tell you if you've already had the virus. Here's what you need to know.
Lung and Respiratory: Signs That You May Have Had COVID-19Could you have already had COVID-19 and not know it? Learn some signs that might indicate just that.
What Is the Recommended Pain Reliever for COVID-19?Acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) can all be used for pain relief from COVID-19 if they are taken in the recommended doses and approved by your doctor.
How to Differentiate Between the Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19, Allergies, Cold, and Flu?Coronavirus disease or COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Most people with COVID-19 will experience a mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without the need for intensive or special treatment. Serious illness is more likely in elderly people and those with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer.
Tests Available for COVID-19Getting tested for COVID-19 can identify you as a positive or negative patient of the disease. Remember no test is 100% accurate. Different methods of testing have been launched to trace COVID-19 infection.
What Is the COVID-19 Antibody Test For?The COVID-19 antibody test, also known as a serology test, is a blood test that looks for antibodies to determine whether you have had a recent or past infection of the virus that causes COVID-19.