What Causes Nasal Congestion? And How to Treat It

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Suffering through a day with a stuffed-up nose is miserable. Trying to sleep with nasal congestion is even worse. But what causes nasal congestion? And what can you do about it?

Nasal congestion can result from seasonal allergies, but it can also be a sign of illness.

Whether allergies, the common cold, or a sinus infection cause your congestion, understanding why it’s happening is crucial for finding long-term relief.

Nasal Congestion Symptoms

The symptoms of nasal congestion are unmistakable. Some people compare it to being underwater, while others describe it as trying to breathe through a straw.

When you’re congested, your nose feels stuffed with mucus. While you may have more nasal discharge than normal, it’s not the mucus that causes the stuffiness. It’s inflammation in the tissues and blood vessels inside your nose.

The technical term for nasal congestion is “rhinitis.” It can also include a runny nose, post-nasal drip (fluid draining down the back of your throat), an itchy nose, sneezing, or a complete inability to breathe through your nose. When it occurs, it’s quite a miserable experience.

Potential Congestion Causes

Several conditions can cause nasal congestion. The most common include:


Allergic rhinitis results when your body responds to pollen, animals, mold, dust, and other airborne allergens. If your nasal congestion comes and goes with the seasons or lasts all year long, allergies may be the cause.

The Common Cold

The common head cold is caused by a virus. It’s often accompanied by a sore throat, cough, and generally feeling unwell. These symptoms typically last seven to 10 days.

Sinus Infections

Congestion is a primary symptom of sinus infections, also known as sinusitis. Sinus infections cause pressure and pain in and around the sinuses. This discomfort may extend to your nose, cheeks, eyes, and forehead. You may also have greenish-yellow discharge from your nose.

Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps are small, non-cancerous growths in your nose and sinuses. They aren’t dangerous on their own, but they can cause sinus infections. If other symptoms don’t accompany your stuffy nose, nasal polyps might be the culprit.

Certain Medications

Rhinitis medicamentosa is an issue caused by medications designed to relieve nasal congestion. If you use a spray decongestant for more than three to five days, then stop, you may develop “rebound congestion,” a temporary worsening of symptoms as your body gets used to not depending on the medication.

Nasal Congestion Treatments

The best treatment for your congestion depends on its cause.

Oral decongestants can provide some relief if your congestion results from the common cold. If you think you may have allergies, you can try over-the-counter antihistamines. If they offer some relief, but not enough, consider taking an at-home allergy test to determine if you have allergies and what triggers them.

Other nasal congestion treatments include:

  • Nasal spray decongestants
  • Corticosteroids
  • Saline rinses

Find Long-lasting Allergy Relief

If you’re tired of suffering from nasal congestion due to allergies, it’s time to find a solution. At Wyndly, our allergy doctors can help you discover what causes your allergies and provide a long-term solution for allergy relief. To get started on the path to lifelong allergy relief take our quick online allergy assessment now!

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