Nasal congestion results when something irritates the membranes lining the inside of your nose and sinuses. The irritation sets off a chain reaction of events — inflammation, swelling, and mucus production — that makes it hard to breathe through your nose.
Generally, nasal congestion clears up after a few days, but if it lasts for a week or more, it might be a sign of an infection. Left untreated, nasal congestion may cause recurrent or chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps, or middle ear infections.
At Oasis Ear, Nose, and Throat, our board-certified Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialists, Dr. James Osborne and Dr. Bryan Smedley, treat nasal congestion from all its many causes at their office in Surprise, Arizona. We also specialize in nonsurgical and surgical treatments for underlying causes ranging from airborne allergies to polyps to structural abnormalities. Here’s our take on what’s most effective for at-home and in-office options.
What causes nasal congestion?
One of the most common causes of nasal congestion is rhinitis, which comes in two forms:
1. Allergic rhinitis
Also known as hay fever, allergic rhinitis is how your body’s immune system reacts to allergens, substances it perceives as a threat that trigger an allergic response. Common allergens include:
- Pollen: from trees and plants that bloom in the spring, summer, and fall
- Dust mites: live in carpeting, furniture, and bedding
- Mold: sends out spores that can trigger an allergic reaction
- Pet dander
2. Nonallergic rhinitis
Nonallergic rhinitis occurs when fluid builds up in your nasal tissues, which swell in response. This inflammation can happen due to a viral infection or exposure to certain triggers, such as:
- Environmental: stress, exposure to smoke (even secondhand smoke), paint fumes, or spicy food
- Medications: certain medications for high blood pressure or pain
- Hormonal: puberty or being pregnant both trigger nasal congestion
- Infections: sinus infections (sinusitis) or the common cold
- Enlarged adenoids: glands located just behind your nasal passage that help trap germs can swell, leading to congestion
Everybody’s triggers are unique, so we take a full medical history to understand what may be causing your problem.
Effective home remedies for nasal congestion
There are several things you can do at home to clear nasal congestion:
- Drink lots of water; fluids thin mucus and ease congestion
- Use a saline nasal spray or nasal rinse to flush out mucus
- Apply adhesive strips (e.g., Breathe Right®) to your nose to open passages
- Use humidifiers to moisten the air
- Turn your shower into a sauna; sit in the steam until you can breathe more comfortably
- Use over-the-counter medications for nasal congestion
If your baby can’t nurse or take a bottle due to nasal congestion, use a nasal bulb syringe to clear mucus from the nose.
Effective medical treatments for nasal congestion
Our treatment recommendation depends on what’s causing your congestion.
Latera® absorbable nasal implant
We use the minimally invasive Latera absorbable nasal implant treatment for nasal obstruction caused by internal nasal valve collapse. We place a two-centimeter absorbable implant in your nose to increase airflow and relieve symptoms.
The minimally invasive ClariFix device uses cold to temporarily interrupt nerve signals that direct your nose to drip, run, and swell.
SINUVA treatment for nasal polyps
If nasal polyps are blocking your passages and causing congestion, SINUVA offers a nonsurgical option to reduce polyp size and inflammation.
SINUVA is a stent inserted into the ethmoid sinus cavity during a routine office visit. Once placed, it delivers mometasone furoate, an anti-inflammatory medication, for continuous symptom relief for up to 90 days.
Balloon sinus augmentation
This procedure uses a balloon inflated within the sinuses to open the passages and allow air to flow unimpeded.
Oasis ENT also offers immunotherapy for allergy-related congestion.
Do you want more tips on beating nasal congestion, or do you have another ENT problem that needs treatment? Oasis Ear, Nose, and Throat can help. To schedule an appointment, call us at 623-207-7560, or book online today.