Nasal congestion occurs when tissues that line the nose become swollen and inflamed. Nasal congestion or a blocked nose is a very common complaint and can be a source of considerable discomfort.
Causes of a Blocked Nose
The common cold is a source of viral infections. These viruses are airborne and are also passed on by hand to nose contact. If a virus is the cause of the blocked nose, it causes the nasal membranes to swell which then causes stuffiness or congestion. When the nasal mucus changes from clear to yellow or green, it usually means that a bacterial infection or viral infection has set in. Sinus infections also cause nasal congestion and this is usually accompanied by a thick discharge.
Polyps are benign fleshy growths in the nose or post nasal space. These can develop from sinus infections.
Rhinitis is an inflammation of the nose and nasal membrane. Vasomotor nerves are the nerves that control the blood vessels. Membranes in the nose have the ability to expand and contract. These membranes can expand during an allergic response causing nasal congestion or a blocked or stuffy nose. Some of the irritants that lead to nasal congestion are cigarette smoke, perfume or even stress.
Deformities of the nose and nasal septum (cartilage that divides the nasal cavity) can also lead to nasal congestion. These deformities are usually the result of an injury that can occur from childbirth or from contact sport.
Adenoids are the glands at the back of the nose and can become enlarged. They are a very common cause of nasal congestion.
Allergic rhinitis is an inflammatory response to a substance or allergen such as pollens, mould, pet hair or dander or house dust mite and cockroaches. Your body releases a substance called histamine which can cause a blocked nose or nasal congestion.
Treatment of a Blocked Nose
The type of treatment depends on the cause of the blocked nose or nasal congestion such as:
- When allergies are the cause antihistamines and decongestants may be prescribed to help prevent the allergic response. A skin prick test can also be done to determine what allergens you may be reacting to. We can then make up drops to desensitise you to the allergen. This is specific immunotherapy or allergen immunotherapy.
- Surgery may be recommended if your adenoids are enlarged as they can cause snoring, mouth breathing and dental problems. Surgery may also be recommended if the nasal septum is deviated.