A stuffy nose is common, and nearly everyone experiences one at some point. Nasal congestion can be frustrating, but it can also impact your quality of life if chronic congestion affects your ability to taste your food or feel confident in social settings.
If nasal congestion is your daily struggle, know that Dr. Conrad McCutcheon is here to help. As a board-certified ENT physician at Memorial Village Sinus and Hearing in Houston, Texas, Dr. McCutcheon is an expert when it comes to treating nasal congestion. Here, we share five effective treatments for nasal congestion and potential next steps if these conservative options aren’t enough.
5 effective nonsurgical treatments for nasal congestion
Nasal congestion can be treated conservatively, but your ideal treatment plan depends on the underlying cause of your congestion. Allergies, infections, nonallergic rhinitis, and structural deformities are a few potential causes of nasal congestion. Depending on the cause of your congestion, you may benefit from:
1. Oral antihistamines
Oral antihistamines are medications you take by mouth that are designed to treat the congestion caused by allergies. There are many different types and brands of oral antihistamines, but a few examples include loratadine (Claritin) and cetirizine (Zyrtec). Allergy medications are available as both prescription and over-the-counter versions.
2. Nasal sprays
Nasal sprays are liquid medications that you spray directly into your nostrils. Some of them contain antihistamines, such as azelastine, while others are purely saline spray.
3. Nasal steroids
Nasal steroids play a big role in reducing inflammation in your nose. They can also help with nasal congestion, sneezing, and a runny nose. Nasal steroids are available both over-the- counter (i.e. Nasacort, Flonase) and by prescription (i.e. mometasone - Nasonex).
Decongestants relieve congestion by shrinking blood vessels in your nose. They come in many forms, including pills, oral liquid, and sprays. Like oral antihistamines and nasal steroids, these are also available over-the-counter and by prescription.
If a bacterial infection is the source of your congestion, you may benefit from antibiotics. Note that viral infections don’t respond to antibiotics.
What if these treatments aren’t enough?
While many individuals benefit from one or a combination of those five treatments, there are some cases in which sprays, medications, and steroids don’t provide enough relief. If your congestion is from chronic rhinitis, Dr. McCutcheon may recommend a non-invasive procedure - posterior nasal nerve cryotheraphy (Clarifix) to deactivate the hyperactive nerves at the back of your nose responsible for your congestion.
If you have structural deformities, such as polyps, contributing to your congestion, Dr. McCutcheon may recommend surgery to address the root cause of your symptoms. Nasal polyps or a deviated septum can increase your risk of chronic sinusitis, which can lead to chronic congestion. By treating the structural abnormalities that lead to chronic sinusitis, you can finally get relief from chronic congestion.
Potential surgical interventions available include:
- Image-guided surgery, including septoplasty and turbinate reduction
- VIVAER® nasal airway remodeling
- Posterior nasal nerve (PNN) cryotherapy (Clarifix), which is very beneficial for those struggling with allergic and nonallergic rhinitis
If you can’t get a handle on chronic nasal congestion, visit us here at Memorial Village Sinus and Hearing to explore your conservative and surgical treatment options. You can reach us at 281-822-3777, or simply request an appointment online.