Nasal congestion 一 more often referred to as a stuffy nose 一 happens when the tissues inside your nose become swollen. Your nose may be runny, but even without the runny nose, congestion can be much more than an annoyance.
Nasal congestion can make it challenging to sleep at night, and you may find yourself reclined in a chair more often than your bed. A stuffy nose can also make it more difficult to eat and enjoy (or even taste) your food.
Board-certified ENT physician Conrad McCutcheon, MD, FACS, is an expert at diagnosing the culprit behind your nasal congestion, but the first step in finding relief is reaching out for help. For that, you can trust Dr. McCutcheon and the team at Memorial Village Sinus & Hearing in Houston, Texas.
When you should see a specialist about congestion
An occasional stuffy nose isn’t unusual. The common cold can cause nasal congestion, which often fades within 7-10 days.
You can treat congestion caused by a cold at home using saline spray, a humidifier (or taking a steamy shower), or a neti pot. If nose blowing is necessary to clear congestion, it should be done gently. Clear your nose gently to avoid damaging the delicate blood vessels in your nose or pushing infected material into sinuses or even the ears.
If your nasal congestion isn’t related to a common cold or if it continues longer than 10 days, you should make an appointment with a health care provider. You should come in to see us if the congestion does not respond to treatments or recurs frequently. You should seek medical care for the following:
- You have a high fever (greater than 100.5).
- Your nasal discharge is discolored (thick yellow or green).
- You have facial or sinus pain.
- You have a low grade fever (this can be a sign of a sinus infection).
- You have chronic sinus infections (symptoms lasting longer than 3 months).
- You suspect your nasal congestion is caused by allergies.
- Your nasal congestion is affecting your ability to eat, sleep, or function well throughout the day.
Bottom line: If your nasal congestion isn’t short-lived and it’s interfering with your quality of life, make an appointment. Allergies, bacterial infections, and even structural abnormalities in your sinus or nasal passages can contribute to nasal congestion, and relief hinges on an accurate diagnosis.
Get relief from your nasal congestion
Because there are so many causes of chronic nasal congestion, our first step is to find out what’s causing your symptoms. Dr. McCutcheon reviews your medical history and your symptoms and examines your nose and sinuses.
Be prepared to answer questions regarding how long you've experienced congestion and if you have any other symptoms, such as facial pain. In some cases, Dr. McCutcheon may recommend nasal endoscopy, sinus xrays, or allergy testing to confirm (or rule out) allergies.
Once he’s identified the source of your stuffy nose, Dr. McCutcheon crafts a personalized treatment plan, which may include:
- Medication — antibiotics, prescription allergy medications, steroids, or decongestants
- Nasal sprays
- Nasal surgery to address nasal abnormalities that do not respond to medications
- Posterior nasal nerve cryotherapy ie. ClariFix® Cryotherapy to address chronic rhinitis
- Nasal airway remodeling ie. Vivaer
- Balloon Sinuplasty
Don’t suffer from nasal congestion on your own. Give Memorial Village Sinus & Hearing a call at 281-822-3777 to explore your potential treatment options. You can also request an appointment online anytime.