Nasal congestion, stuffiness, or obstruction to nasal breathing may be a mere nuisance to some. To others, it is a source of considerable discomfort, and it detracts from quality of life. These symptoms can be caused by a remarkable array of different disorders.
- During a virus infection, such as the common “cold,” the nasal mucus turns from clear to yellow or green, meaning a bacterial infection has taken over.
- Acute sinus infections produce nasal congestion, thick discharge, and pain and tenderness in the cheeks and upper teeth, between and behind the eyes, or above the eyes and in the forehead.
- Chronic sinus infections may or may not cause pain, but nasal obstruction and offensive nasal or postnasal discharge is often present.
- Deformities/injuries of the nose and the nasal septum, the thin, flat cartilage and bone that separates the nose into its two sides.
- Enlargement of the adenoids, common in children, fill the back of the nose above and behind the palate. Children with this problem breathe noisily at night and even snore.
- Tumors and foreign bodies, usually inserted by children.
- Polyps can fill the nasal cavity and cause congestion and drainage.
- Hay fever, rose fever, grass fever, and “summertime colds” are various names for allergic rhinitis.
- Allergy is an exaggerated inflammatory response to a foreign substance which, in the case of a stuffy nose, is usually pollen, mold, animal dander, or some element in house dust.
- Foods sometime play a role.
- Nasal congestion can occur due to nonspecific irritants to the nose. Treatment options include nasal sprays and turbinate reduction, which is a procedure that can be done in the office with local anesthesia.