A stuffy nose is not always a sign of colds

The fault of the stuffy nose is not always the cold. Here are all the other possible causes.

It’s easy to say cold. In fact, when the nose becomes clogged, there may be other causes at the origin.

Stuffy nose, or nasal congestion, is not a serious or dangerous disorder, but it is certainly very annoying. It occurs when the nasal mucosa swells, reducing or preventing normal breathing as a result.

Although it is the main symptom of cold virus infection, the disorder can actually be provoked by different causes.

Viruses and bacteria. Infection of the upper airways is the most frequent cause leading to runny nose (infectious rhinitis). And it is precisely the runny nose that is the main symptom of a viral infection, but it can also evolve due to the overlapping of bacteria. The most obvious sign of bacterial rhinitis is the appearance of a discharge of yellowish mucus.

In general, it is possible to contract a form of infectious rhinitis at any time of the year. However, due to the colder temperature and longer stay indoors, infections usually occur more often in winter. The cold, in fact, makes the wall of the nasal mucous membranes drier, and less able to protect itself from the aggression of external agents.

In the case of viral or bacterial infection, the main symptoms are those typical of colds, such as swelling inside the nostrils and leakage of mucus and nasal fluids. However, it is possible that colds can spread to the respiratory tract, also causing a sore throat and cough.

Allergies. Nasal congestion can also reveal an allergy (allergic rhinitis), whether seasonal, triggered by plants and pollen, or a perennial form, such as dust allergy. In these cases, the classic itching inside the nose also appears.

Respiratory allergies can be very annoying, and cause a nasal obstruction even very disabling, albeit temporary. Very often, nose discomfort is accompanied by conjunctivitis and tearing, due to the fact that the eyes also show a reaction to allergies, such as pollen.

Obviously, a first form of prevention to be implemented with regard to allergies, is to avoid contact with allergens as much as possible. Subsequently, a specialist doctor will be able to perform tests suitable for identifying the elements that could trigger allergic reactions.

Abnormal vascular response. The disorder may also be due to an abnormal response of blood vessels (vasomotor rhinitis) to certain stimuli, such as changes in temperature or humidity, smoking, emotional stress. In the most sensitive subjects, environmental variations such as those just mentioned could also trigger other symptoms, such as redness, burning of the skin, headache or headache.

Anatomical abnormalities. Some abnormalities, for example deviation of the nasal septum or malformations of the nasal cavities, as well as hypertrophy of the turbinates due to chronic inflammation, can prevent normal air flow and cause chronic obstruction of the nose. In some individuals, respiratory disorders can cause recurrent sleep apnea, and consequent difficulty sleeping.

Treatments and therapies

In anatomical abnormalities, the only effective treatment is surgery. In other cases you can use different remedies. If you suspect that you suffer from an anatomical peculiarity that creates difficulty breathing, such as the deviated nasal septum, it is important to consult your doctor. The latter will be able to indicate some tests to be performed to verify the presence of disorders, and will confirm the actual need for surgery.

Nasal washes They consist of inserting into the nasal cavities, usually through a pump, special saline solutions, thermal waters or solution Physiological. They are very useful for removing the particles that cause allergies and, in any case, are indicated in children under 12 years, in which should not be used decongestants.
Decongestants These are solutions of drugs that can be administered in drops or sprays nasals effective in reducing congestion and restoring, therefore, a normal breathing. These products should not be used for more than one week. They are contraindicated in children under 12 years old.
Antihistamines They are used for allergic rhinitis; In fact, they also eliminate the itching characteristic of these forms.
Aerosol Various drugs can be administered with aerosol, including mucolytics, antibiotics and corticosteroids.

Among the options available for nasal washing, you can find, even in pharmacies, hypotonic and hypertonic solutions in the form of nasal sprays. These, which vary respectively in the salt concentration present within them, are very useful for the daily cleaning of the nasal cavities, especially in the presence of mucus.

On the contrary, the administration of nasal decongestants should be given more attention, since they cannot be used for too long a period. Some medicines, more suitable for long-term therapies, require a prescription, and a check regarding the interaction with other types of drugs. A series of products may not be recommended during pregnancy, to prevent fetal disorders.

Among the natural remedies, it is worth mentioning eucalyptus: a plant with refreshing and decongestant properties. On the market you can find candies with eucalyptus extract, useful for clearing the respiratory tract.

Consequences of nasal congestion

Whatever the cause, stuffy nose can cause difficulty breathing. In newborns it can even be dangerous, since up to 6 months the baby is not able to breathe through his mouth.

In all other subjects, the stuffy nose disturbs or prevents sleep, with the appearance of fatigue and irritability. In some cases, strong inflammation of the respiratory cavities can lead to the formation of nasal polyps – fleshy formations that contribute to obstructing the nostrils. Also in this case, the anti-inflammatory action of nasal decongestants can give relief and stem the problem.

In addition, breathing through the mouth can cause dryness and irritation in the throat and cough, another symptom present in the flu. Coughing and sneezing, strong and frequent, can be very annoying, and create difficulty sleeping, as well as causing muscle pain. In these cases, hot herbal teas with the addition of honey can relieve throat discomfort.

Finally, air that is not filtered can carry dust, irritants or other infectious agents into the lower respiratory tract.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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