Nasal congestion — marked by stuffiness, sinus pain, and mucus buildup — is a common condition. If you suddenly develop nasal congestion, you might assume an infection such as the common cold or a sinus infection is the culprit, but the reality is that there are many causes of congestion.
As a nasal and sinus specialist, Dr. Conrad McCutcheon knows that finding relief from nasal congestion begins by treating the problem at the source. In this article, Dr. McCutcheon highlights the top five causes of nasal congestion, and how he can help you breathe better.
1. Nasal allergic conditions
Airborne allergens — such as pollen, dander, and mold — affect your nose and eyes. If you have allergies, you may experience itchy, watery eyes, nasal congestion, and increased sneezing. Your nose may also seem itchy.
Is your congestion related to allergies? According to the experts at Harvard Medical School, allergies typically cause itchy, watery eyes while viral infections don’t. Infections may cause fevers, while allergies don’t.
If allergies are the source of your nasal congestion, Dr. McCutcheon may conduct testing to pinpoint your triggers. Knowing what causes your allergic reaction helps him prescribe the appropriate treatment approach and specific medications.
2. Viral infections
Nasal infections are a common cause of nasal congestion. Viral infections — which often start to improve after 5-7 days — can cause swollen nasal membranes, stuffiness, and increased nasal discharge.
With an upper respiratory infection — the common cold — you can find relief with at-home remedies including using a humidifier, using saline spray, staying hydrated, and getting plenty of rest.
3. Bacterial infections
You might suspect your infection is bacterial if it lasts for more than 10 days, if you have a high fever, if facial pain and discharge worsen, or if you had a viral infection that started to clear but then worsened.
The type of treatment you receive depends on whether you have a viral or bacterial infection. Bacterial infections, for example, require antibiotics, while viral infections don’t.
4. Structural issues in your nose
Sometimes the cause of nasal congestion can’t be attributed to illness or allergies. If your nose seems clogged all the time, a structural issue in your nose may be to blame. Polyps, for example, can cause congestion, a feeling like your nose is always full, a runny nose, and postnasal drip.
5. Nonallergic rhinitis
Nonallergic rhinitis — a stuffy nose not related to allergies — can cause a runny nose, nasal congestion, and even coughing. Without imaging tests or other diagnostic tests such as allergy tests, you’re not likely to know if you have allergic rhinitis or nonallergic rhinitis. Getting an accurate diagnosis ensures that you get the right treatment.
Get relief and start breathing easier
Nasal congestion, whether it’s caused by acute sinusitis or allergies, can be frustrating. Dr. McCutcheon is a nasal specialist on a mission to help you breathe better, and he offers treatments ranging from allergy therapies and medications to alleviate symptoms of rhinitis to non-invasive office procedures such as ClariFix® Cryotherapy that provide a longer lasting solution.
To explore your nasal congestion treatment options, call Memorial Village ENT today. You can reach us at 281-822-3777 during office hours. Alternatively, you can request an appointment online anytime.