A congested, stuffy nose is a nuisance, and can affect your ability to smell, taste, and breathe. It is one of the most common complaints, especially when it persists or is accompanied by a nasal discharge.
Causes of a Stuffy Nose
Congestion occurs when nasal tissues and blood vessels become swollen and inflamed. It has little to do with excess mucus, as many people believe. This swelling causes obstructed breathing.
Anything that irritates the nasal tissues can cause congestion. The list of possible causes is lengthy and includes infections (colds, influenza, and acute or chronic sinusitis), allergies, structural abnormalities (deviated septum, enlarged adenoids or tonsils, nasal polyps or tumors), non-allergic rhinitis, dry air, cold temperatures, bright lights, cluster headaches, hormonal changes, medications, thyroid problems, spicy foods, tobacco smoke, and stress.
Home remedies are usually effective in treating congestion. Decongestants (to shrink the blood vessels in the nasal passages) and antihistamines (to reduce the amount of mucus) provide quick relief, but they are only effective for a few days. If used longer, they may actually worsen the condition. Saline nasal sprays are a better bet, especially when used in conjunction with a humidifier to moisten the air and keep nasal passages from drying out. Drink lots of fluids, especially hot tea, broth, or chicken soup.