Can Nasal Congestion Indicate A Serious Health Problem?
Cold, cough, flus and nasal congestion are very common conditions that show up a number of times in a year. While some people on an average suffer from these conditions about 2-3 times a year, there are a few others who suffer from these more often.
While any medical condition that comes up can be very irritating to deal with, nasal congestion particularly can really leave you tired and drained out. Nasal congestion hampers with the most basic functioning that every human depends on i.e. free breathing. Since a nasal blockage complete blocks up the nasal passage with mucus, one finds it very difficult to breathe through the mucus
While all nasal congestions do not result into a sinusitis, most sinuses start from a cold and a nasal congestion. There could be a number of causes that could result into a nasal congestion, including cold, viral infection, flu and so on. Whatever be the cause the symptoms are really troublesome for the entire duration that they last.
Ever wondered what is actually causing the stuffed up feeling in your nose? There is a simple explanation to that. When the cold or allergies get on to you the nasal membranes which are thin tissues lining the nasal passages become inflamed and irritated. As a result of this reaction they secrete more mucus in order to remove the irritant that is causing the reaction. As a result the nasal passage begins to get clogged up with the mucus resulting into a blocked nose.
Depending upon the cause behind your nasal congestion, the congestion could last you from a short time to being around for a longer time. A nasal congestion affects people of various age groups. In older adults and little children nasal congestion can be a very annoying symptom to manage though rarely serious. In case of babies a blocked nose makes it difficult for them to breathe and take their feeds properly. This could leave they very cranky and irritated.
Nasal congestion is a symptom while the condition that causes the nasal congestion is essentially the disease. Since the more visible problem is the nasal congestion, we often consider it to be the disease forgetting about the underlying cause that is triggering the nasal blockage.
What Could be the Various Causes of Nasal Congestion?
Here are some of the most common reasons behind the nasal congestion:
- Common Cold: The most common reason behind your nasal congestion in most cases is the common cold. Most of us experience a nasal congestion along with a cold and cough episode. A cold and a number of infections around the respiratory system are triggered by germs, viruses and bacteria. These infections trigger a blockage in the nose or can cause a running nose with various other symptoms. Along with the other symptoms one feels extremely low and tired and can also experience fever or a headache. One may also have cough along with several other symptoms. The discharge from the nose may be thick, sticky or watery largely depending upon the type of infection and what stage the infection is in. The color of the mucus could be clear, yellow or green. Normally the symptoms take upto a few days to clear up and a number of times medicines help in faster recovery. Ultimately it is your own immune system that will help in fighting the infection and treating the cold. Decongestant medicines are also helpful in releasing the pressure built up in the blocked nose.
- Flu or influenza: Flu is also a very common infection that is triggered normally by a virus. Though it is very similar to a cold, it is more often accompanied with bouts of high temperature along with severe exhaustion. One can also have several aches and pains all over the body. Sometime sneezing or running nose i.e. the symptoms of cold could also accompany a flu. The treatment of a flu is quite similar to that of cold. However, certain people who are susceptible to the infection may require an antiviral treatment to get rid of the viral infection. Very few people actually suffer from complications arising out of the flu.
- Sinuses: Sinuses are small, air filled sacs that are placed all over the facial area including the cheekbones and the forehead. They are also responsible for the secretion of mucus that drains into the nose and sometimes even trickles into the throat. Sinusitis cause a swelling in the sinuses. The symptoms of sinusitis are primarily nasal congestion and pain in the areas of sinusitis inflamation. The most common areas that impact the sinuses include the forehead, cheeks or bot sides of the nose. The pain could intensify when one bends down and may even experience symptoms like dizziness and fever.
- Hay Fever: Hay fever is triggered due to allergy that could result out of pollen and is a very common reason associated with blocked and stuffy nose. If you are suffering from hay fever, it could be accompanied with symptoms like itching sensation, watery eyes and a lot of sneezing.The symptoms and intensity is likely to change each year depending upon the pollen that you may be allergic to.
- Allergic Rhinitis: Allergic rhinitis is a medical condition that causes an inflammation of the tissue lining that cover the nasal passages. It can be triggered due to several allergies and various other causes. Apart from these other allergic reactions caused by: dust mites, pets, latex, flour, wood dust, certain plants etc.
- Other causes of nasal congestion: Swelling of adenoid glands could result in a nasal congestion especially in case of children. Adenoid glands comprise of bits of tissues that are located at the back of the nose. They often shrink in some people when they are young. In case they enlarge they could lead to running or congested nose. These could also result in symptoms like snoring or noisy breathing. Kids with enlarged adenoids have a changed voice that often feels like they have a permanent cold. In case the adenoid glands are being troublesome, they can easily be removed by a surgery.
- In case your nasal passage has a structural deformity like the dividing bone between the two nostrils is not straight, a condition known as deviated septum can cause a nasal congestion. This deviated septum could be a result of natural abnormality or an injury or even an operation.A physical blockage of the nose may also cause congestion. For example, sometimes children may get things such as beads or peas stuck up their noses. Hardly, the tumour in the airways around the nose or sinuses can cause congestion.
Are Tests Helpful in Understanding the Root Cause of Nasal Congestion?
When you have a nasal congestion, you don’t really need any tests. The doctor is able to normally ascertain the cause by asking some leading questions about the symptoms that are being experienced by the patient. Further a physical examination helps in getting better clarity about the possible underlying cause of the nasal congestion.
In the cause of the nasal congestion are not very clear, or in case the symptoms are persistent or worsening with time then the doctor may recommend you to a ear, nose and throat specialist who may conduct a detailed examination. If no specific causes are found then the doctor may recommend a CT Scan or an MRI Scan.
When Should You See a Doctor for Your Nasal Congestion
In most cases of nasal congestion you may not need to see a doctor. Particularly if you have a mere common cold with no major complications including fever, you can most likely manage the symptoms at home. You may require certain over the counter drugs to help you get some relief in breathing particularly when the cold begins to hinder your sleep.
You may need to consult a doctor when:
- Your nasal congestion is not improving or is worsening after a week inspite of trying various home remedies.
- You are unable to figure out the exact cause of your nasal congestion
- You have discharge like blood coming out from your nose.
- The nasal blockage only occurs and affects one side of your nose.
- Your child is seriously unwell along with other symptoms like fever, flu along with the nasal congestion.
- Your baby is suffering from a severe nasal congestion that is not getting better with home remedies and the child is unable to sleep or is very cranky finding feeding and breathing difficult.
- You are feeling extremely unwell and low.