Symptoms 101: Sinus & Nasal Congestion

Feeling stuffy? Maybe you’ve been blowing your nose all day and are almost running out of tissues, and yet, you feel worse. You can’t be productive because your head feels heavy and you’re finding it difficult to breathe. Nasal congestion can be relieved with nasal decongestants like Sinex SEVERE Ultra Fine Mist nasal spray.

Keep reading to learn more about nasal congestion.

What is Nasal Congestion?

If you have the common cold or flu, the uncomfortable stuffed-up feeling you are experiencing is called nasal congestion, also known as a stuffy nose. When you’re all stuffed up, the simple act of breathing can be difficult. On top of that, you might feel tired and just plain dreary.

But what is nasal congestion, exactly? Nasal congestion (or “stuffy nose”) is often called “rhinitis” by healthcare providers. “Rhino” is a Greek prefix meaning the nose, and “–itis” refers to inflammation. Therefore, rhinitis is the inflammation of the linings of the nasal cavity.

Symptoms of Nasal Congestion

When your nose feels stuffy, you may find it hard to breathe. The inflammation leads to swollen nasal passages that constrict air flow, making it harder to breathe through your nose. The inflammation and swelling also makes it harder to get mucus out of your nose, so you may also have a build-up of mucus, as well. It causes you to feel stuffed up, which is why it’s also referred to as a stuffy nose.

The congested feeling may also be accompanied by other cold symptoms, like runny nose or headache. These symptoms can make it hard for you to perform your routine activities, and overall make you feel tired.

What Causes Nasal Congestion?

You may think your stuffy nose is the result of too much thick mucus. However, nasal congestion usually occurs because of a swelling of the tissues that line your nose.

This swelling happens when blood vessels in your nasal tissues become dilated, to get the immune response cells to the nose to fight the virus that has entered the body.

Nasal congestion causes include:

  • A Virus. The viruses that cause the common cold or flu often enter the body directly through your nose. Once there, they begin to multiply inside the lining of your nasal passages. The body’s response to the infection leads to inflammation that brings nasal congestion.
  • Allergies. If you experience certain allergies, you may find that your nose is frequently stuffy. Certain triggers, such as dust, pollen, and pet dander, can cause an allergic response, which causes swelling of your nasal tissues and leads to nasal congestion.

How Long Does Nasal Congestion Last?

If your nasal congestion is from a cold or flu, it will likely last as long your cold or flu (anywhere from five to 10 days) or even longer. If your nasal congestion is the result of allergies, it may last longer, depending on your exposure to that particular allergen.

How to Treat Nasal Congestion Symptoms

When you have nasal congestion, it can stop you in your tracks. Constant sniffling or mouth breathing may make it more difficult to focus on the day ahead of you. While there’s no cure for nasal congestion from the cold or flu, you can treat the symptoms so you can feel better while your body rids itself of the cold or flu virus.

Many over-the-counter cold and flu medicines treat multiple symptoms. Make sure to identify what other symptoms you may be experiencing along with nasal congestion, if any, so you can choose the product that’s right for your situation.

Medications for Nasal Congestion

Nasal Congestion from Cold or Flu

Since nasal congestion is the result of swollen nasal passages, so medicines that shrink the swollen tissues may help. Nonprescription topical nasal decongestants, such as oxymetazoline, relieve nasal congestion by shrinking the inflamed linings (or “mucosa”) of the nose through a process called “vasoconstriction” (constriction of the blood vessels). Shrinking these tissues opens the airways, reducing resistance and improving airflow.

Sinex nasal sprays, like Sinex SEVERE Moisturizing Ultra Fine Mist, contain topical oxymetazoline that works in minutes to shrink swollen nasal membranes so you can breathe more freely, plus soothing aloe. It lasts for up to 12 hours to relieve nasal congestion from cold or upper respiratory allergies.

If your nasal congestion is accompanied by common cold or flu symptoms like cough and chest congestion, consider a multi-symptom relief medicine, instead. DayQuil and NyQuil SEVERE both have a different nasal decongestant that comes in a liquid or pill. DayQuil SEVERE has a cough suppressant and an expectorant to relieve those symptoms, respectively. NyQuil SEVERE has an antihistamine to relieve sneezing or runny nose.

Nasal Congestion from Allergies

Year-round allergies can bring on nasal congestion more often than you’d like. Sinex Saline Ultra Fine Nasal Mist instantly clears your nasal passages from allergens, dust, and irritants, and helps decongest your stuffy nose with purified saline. It’s safe for use daily, and safe to use with prescriptions and other over-the-counter medicines.

Home Remedies to Treat Nasal Congestion

Home treatment should focus on keeping your nasal passages and sinuses moist to prevent further irritation. Here are some ways to keep your nasal passages stay moist:

Use a humidifier or vaporizer. Adding moisture into the air can prevent your nose from drying out and stuffiness. You can also linger in a hot shower or put your face over a bowl of hot water with a covering over your head to loosen the mucus in your nose.

Drink lots of fluids. You need fluids to keep your mucus thin and support your immune system. Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages like coffee or soda, as they can worsen dehydration.

How to Avoid Spreading Your Nasal Congestion Due to Cold or Flu

The best way to avoid getting a stuffy nose is to take preventive measures against the cold and flu viruses that cause nasal congestion. You can do this primarily by practicing good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Also, clean frequently-touched surfaces like doorknobs and light switches, and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Alternatively, if you’re experiencing nasal congestion, stay home and avoid contact with others so that you don’t spread your virus to those around you. Take the recommended precautions by the Centers for Diseases and Control (CDC) to avoid spreading viruses. According to the CDC, everyone should maintain a distance of six feet (about two arms’ length) between themselves and other people.4

If your nasal congestion is allergy-related, you should try to avoid the triggers that cause your allergies, such as dust, pollen, pet dander, and smoke. These triggers can easily irritate your nasal passageways, triggering an allergic response leading to congestion.

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