woman suffering from nasal congestionNasal congestion is an annoying condition that can make you miserable during the day and cause you to have trouble sleeping at night.

In this blog, the ear, nose, and throat specialists at DFW Sinus Select explain more about nasal congestion, as well as the top tips to avoid and treat it.

What is nasal congestion?

Nasal congestion is a stuffed-up feeling that occurs when the lining of your nasal passages become inflamed and irritated. This usually happens in response to a cold, the flu, allergies, or a sinus infection.

The membranes in your nasal passages produce more mucus in an effort to flush out whatever’s causing the problem, but it’s unable to flow freely out of your nose because of the inflammation. As a result, your nose becomes congested.

What are the top tips to avoid nasal congestion?

You can help avoid nasal congestion by keeping your nasal passages moist. The following tips can help you do this:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. This helps keep your mucus thin, which makes it more likely to drain easily.
  • Use a humidifier or vaporizer. Dry winter air in particular can dry out your nasal passages.
  • Breathe in steam. Take a hot shower, or put a towel over your head and breathe in steam from a pot of warm water that’s been taken off of the stove.
  • Use a saline nasal spray. You can buy these in the store or make your own by putting two or three teaspoons of non-iodized salt in a pint of distilled or sterilized water or water that’s been boiled for a few minutes and allowed to cool. Use a bulb syringe to squirt the solution toward the back of your head, and gently blow your nose.
  • Avoid chlorinated pools. The chlorine can dry out your nasal passages.
  • Use a Neti pot. These can be found at many drug stores and are used to help rinse out your nasal cavities. They should be used with distilled or sterilized water or tap water that’s been boiled for several minutes and allowed to cool. To use it, tilt your head to the side while leaning over the sink. Pour the water from the pot into one nostril, and it comes out the other one after washing away mucus and other irritants. Do the same on the other side.

What are the treatment options for nasal congestion?

Treatment options can include lifestyle remedies such as those outlined above or the use of over-the-counter or prescription medication. These include:

  • Antihistamines – used to treat allergies by reducing or blocking your body’s release of histamine. They’re available in tablet form or as nasal sprays.
  • Nasal steroids – used to reduce swelling and mucus in the nasal passages.
  • Antibiotics – used if your nasal congestion is caused by a bacterial infection. If your congestion is caused by a cold or other virus, an antibiotic won’t help, however.
  • Decongestants – shrink blood vessels in the lining of your nose, but can be drying.

In some cases, a structural abnormality causes your nose to become congested. These include nasal polyps (non-cancerous growths on the inside of your nose) or a deviated septum (a crooked or off-center wall of cartilage that divides your two nostrils). Surgery may be recommended to correct the underlying issue that’s causing your congestion. These procedures include:

  • Septoplasty – straightening and repositioning of a deviated septum
  • Turbinate reduction – reduces the size of overly large turbinates (long, thin bones covered with tissue and located on the inside walls of your nose)
  • Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) – enlarges and clears nasal passages.
  • Balloon sinuplasty – involves no cutting and no removal of bone or tissue and utilizes a tiny balloon that’s inflated and then removed to clear out clogged nasal passages.

Where can I find the best treatment for my nasal congestion?

DFW Sinus Select is dedicated to providing an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment for patients who have disorders related to the nose and sinuses, including nasal congestion. Our board-certified ear, nose, and throat specialists have advanced education and training in these areas and provide the latest in diagnostics and minimally invasive procedures to help identify and treat the cause of your issues.

Make an appointment today at one of DFW Sinus Select’s 10 locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area!