Simply put, nasal congestion is the blockage of the nasal passage due to accumulation of mucous or inflammation of the inner nasal membranes due to a viral infection. Allergies, colds and flu may also lead to this problem, causing serious breathing difficulties. There are various options that are available to address this problem, including surgery, which can completely heal nasal congestion.
Is Nasal Congestion Serious?
Nasal congestion is indeed very serious and when left untreated it can even lead to fatal incidents as outlined below. There are a few tests that can be undertaken to establish the cause, which is imperative if you want to have the correct treatment. Here are some of the problems associated with nasal congestion:
- New born infants experience extreme difficulty during breathing and breastfeeding. Nasal congestion can therefore cause extreme respiratory distress to infants if left unattended.
- Nasal congestion in adolescents or older children has been associated with a series of related difficulties, which include degrees of discomfort, mild facial and head pains.
- Sleep apnea, hearing, speech development and snoring are all associated with nasal congestion
- Right-sided heart failure, chronic sleep apnea, insufficient oxygen levels and hypoxia are all brought about by chronic nasal congestion.
What are the Causes of Nasal Congestion?
The causes of nasal congestion are quite many but generally, a stuffy nose is usually as a result of a viral or bacterial infection. The following other causes could also be indirectly linked to these two major causes:
- Hay fever, allergic reaction to pollen or grass.
- A sinusitis or sinus infection
- Common cold or influenza
- Nasal congestion may occur during pregnancy due to the increase of the amount of blood flowing through the body
- A condition of rebound nasal congestion brought about by the extended use of topical decongestants.
- Gastric reflux can also be severe enough in some cases to reach the nasal area, causing irritation.
Treatment for Nasal Congestion
A decongestant such as a nasal spray relieves stuffiness by shrinking the blood vessels in the lining of the nose. However, decongestants sprays should not be used for more than 3 days to reduce the risk of drug-dependence nasal congestion.
The use of a humidifier can help alleviate nasal congestion, the humidifier does this by emitting water vapor thus when inhaled, it promotes moisture in the airways
Nasal irrigation done through use of a saline solution helps in thinning and loosening mucus. This is particularly beneficial in flushing out the excess debris and mucus.
Black pepper or red pepper helps in dilating blood vessels present inside the nose and stimulates the secretion which promotes drainage of the sinuses.
Another highly effective natural nasal decongestant is made by placing a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil on a handkerchief or cotton ball, then holding it close to your nose and breathing deeply to increase air flow in the nose.
Drinking hot liquids such as soup, tea or coffee soothes inflamed membranes and prevents dehydration. This is quite effective in relieving nasal congestion too.
Finally try and stick to a diet that has less carbohydrates and sugar. Foods like vegetables, fish and whole grains help eradicate nasal congestion.