Nasal congestion, or "stuffy nose," is a term that refers to the obstruction to the flow of air in and out of the nose. In contrast, the term "runny nose" refers to a discharge (fluid) coming from the nasal passages. Nasal congestion most commonly is the result of inflammation and swelling of the lining tissues of the nasal passages and sinuses. Less commonly, anatomical obstructions (for example, a deviated nasal septum, foreign bodies) may lead to nasal congestion. Prolonged use of certain nasal decongestant sprays or drops can lead to a worsening of nasal congestion. Rarely, tumors of the nasal passages or chronic medical conditions may be the cause of nasal congestion.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
A Cold or The Flu? How to Tell the Difference
Learn common symptoms of a cold and the flu. Discover the difference between a cold and the flu. Read about cold and flu...
Common Cold Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Take this quiz to learn the truth behind the infectious, contagious, uncomfortable disease known as the common cold. Test your...
Common Respiratory Illnesses
Is your cough caused by a cold, flu, pneumonia or something else? Learn causes of respiratory infection like bronchitis,...
Home Remedies for the Flu or a Cold
Watch this pictures slideshow and learn about home remedies for sick children. Get tips on how to treat a sore throat, cough,...
How to Relieve Sinus Pressure and Pain Naturally
What are sinuses? Sinus pressure and nasal congestion can cause pain and interfere with your daily life. Discover natural...
Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu
What natural remedies work for the flu and common cold? Many claim cold symptoms and flu symptoms can be relieved with Echinacea,...
Out-of-Control Allergy Symptoms: Treatment Relief in Pictures
Learn 10 signs your allergies are out of control. See these surprising allergy symptoms and find out how to get relief for...
Causes of Nasal Congestion
An allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. ...
Chronic Rhinitis and Post-Nasal Drip (Symptoms, Treatment)
Chronic rhinitis and post-nasal drip symptoms include an itchy, runny nose, sneezing, itchy ears, eyes, and throat. Seasonal...
Cluster headaches are a type of headache that recurs over a period. Episodes can last one to three times a day during this time,...
The common cold (viral upper respiratory tract infection) is a contagious illness that may be caused by various viruses. Symptoms...
Cystic fibrosis is a disease of the mucus and sweat glands. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease. The outcome of the disease...
A deviate septum is a condition that may require surgery. With a deviated septum, the bone and cartilage that divide the nasal...
Drug addiction is a chronic disease that causes drug-seeking behavior and drug use despite negative consequences to the user and...
Influenza (flu) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache,...
German Measles (Rubella)
German measles is a disease that's caused by a virus. Symptoms include rash and fever for two to three days. The MMR (measles,...
Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis)
Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is an irritation of the nose caused by pollen and is associated with the following allergic...
Measles (rubeola) is a highly contagious disease that's caused by a virus. Symptoms include a rash, high fever, cough, runny...
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a highly contagious viral infection. Symptoms include fever and nasal congestion and...
Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)
Sinus infection (sinusitis) is caused by allergies, infection, and chemicals or other irritants of sinuses. Signs and symptoms...
Novel H1N1 influenza A virus infection (swine flu) is an infection that generally is transferred from an infected pig to a human,...
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
Whooping cough (pertussis) is highly contagious respiratory infection that is caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. There...
Other Causes of Nasal Congestion
Examples of Medications for Nasal Congestion
- cetirizine, Zyrtec, Zyrtec Allergy, Zyrtec Hives
- chlorpheniramine, pseudoephedrine, Deconamine (Discontinued)
- diphenhydramine, Benadryl
- fexofenadine (Allegra, Mucinex Allergy)
- fexofenadine and pseudoephedrine, Allegra-D
- loratadine and pseudoephedrine (Alavert Allergy & Sinus, Claritin-D, Claritin-D 24 hour)
- loratadine, Claritin, Claritin RediTabs, Alavert, Claritin Hives Relief, Children's Claritin
- pseudoephedrine (Oral, Afrinol, Sudafed)
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter