Nasal Congestion - Meaning, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aman Priya Khanna
Written by Nikita Tyagi, last updated on 21 November 2022
Nasal Congestion - Meaning, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Nasal congestion is also known as a stuffy nose. It occurs when nasal irritation is due to a chain of reactions like inflammation and mucus production resulting in swelling of the nasal blood vessels and tissues. Nasal congestion may also include a runny nose. It can also be a symptom of another health problem like a sinus infection. 


What are the Symptoms of Nasal Congestion?

Nasal congestion, or a stuffy nose, is the uncomfortable feeling of having a nose filled up due to the flu or the common cold. Even the simple act of breathing might be challenging when the nasal passage is all blocked up. Feeling worn out and generally depressed can be one of the symptoms of nasal congestion. Some other signs and symptoms of nasal congestion may include the following:-

  1. A stuffy or runny nose
  2. Pain in the sinus
  3. Building up of mucus
  4. The nasal tissues may be swollen
  5. Sneezing
  6. Headache
  7. Cough 
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What are the Causes of Nasal Congestion?

Nasal congestion may be due to allergic rhinitis and non-allergic rhinitis.

  1. The cause of allergic rhinitis are:-
  2. Dust mites: Dust mites may be present in clean environments, furniture and carpets and can initiate allergic reactions in the nose.
  3. Pollen: When the trees and the plants bloom in the summer, they produce pollen. Inhalation of this pollen may cause allergic reactions. 
  4. Moulds: Allergens (substances that can trigger an allergic reaction), irritants, and occasionally poisonous substances are all produced by moulds. When inhaled or touched, mould spores can trigger allergic reactions such as sneezing, runny noses, red eyes, and skin rashes.

The causes of non-allergic rhinitis are:-

  1. Hormonal: Hormonal changes in the body, especially during puberty and pregnancy, may cause nasal congestion.
  2. Medicines: If the person is taking medication for controlling high blood pressure and pain, there are chances of nasal blockage. 
  3. Infections: Infections like the common cold and sinus can also cause nasal blockage.
  4. Environmental: Non-allergic rhinitis can be triggered due to secondhand smoke, smog, dust, or strong odours. 
  5. Enlarged adenoids: Enlarged adenoids may also result in non-allergic rhinitis.

What are Home remedies for Nasal Congestion?

The good news is that there are several easy things you can do at home to feel better quickly, without even going to the pharmacy, no matter what the reason of your congestion may be. The most effective way to maintain a clear nasal passage is by keeping it moist. The patients are advised the following methods to keep it moist.

  1. Using a humidifier vaporiserzer is very useful. 
  2. Breathe in steam from the pot of warm water
  3. Drinking adequate fluids may also help keep the nasal passage moist. It will make the mucous layer thin, and hence, this could prevent nasal blockage.
  4. Placing a warm towel over the face may also help relieve the discomfort from nasal congestion.
  5. Avoid going into the chlorinated swimming pools as this may irritate the mucous membrane of the nose. 
  6. Nasal saline spray is also beneficial in maintaining the moisture of the nasal passage.

How is Nasal Congestion Prevented?

Can sinus discomfort and congestion be avoided? Though it is not possible to completely avoid diseases and allergens, but the chances of nasal congestion can be reduced by practising the following things:-

  1. People should wash their hands at regular intervals
  2. Washing bed sheets at regular intervals with hot water and detergent.
  3. Avoid close contact with sick people.
  4. Keeping windows and doors closed during the pollen season.

How long does Nasal Congestion last?

In most cases, the nasal congestion of the people goes away after one or two weeks of the onset. If a bacterial infection causes nasal congestion, it may last about 12 to 14 days. In this condition, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to the patient. Although the congestion will be cleared within 5 to 7 days, it is important to complete the entire course of the antibiotic. In case of congestion caused by the deviation septum, the doctor may recommend corrective surgery. If the allergen causes nasal congestion, it remains till the person is in contact with the allergen. 

When to See the doctor?

Generally, the nasal congestion clears within a few days on its own. However, if the congestion does not go away within a few days, the patient should book an appointment with the doctor. The patients should also call the doctor if:

  1. nasal congestion lasts for more than ten days 
  2. the patient has a fever along with the nasal congestion
  3. the nasal congestion is in newborn babies, and this prevents them from taking a bottle and nursing
  4. the mucous from the nose is green, yellow, or has blood in it


Patients with nasal congestion experience a blocked or stuffy nose. It may be due to allergic or non-allergic rhinitis. In most cases, nasal congestion is cured within a few days by practising home remedies. However, nasal congestion, which is not cured through home remedies, requires a doctor's consultation. 

Contact HexaHealth, if your nasal congestion symptoms are prolonged and bothering you, hampering your quality of life. HexaHealth is an excellent patient-first platform that connects patients with nasal congestion to the right doctors and hospitals to diagnose the causes further and receive appropriate treatment.


Frequently Asked Questions

How may nasal congestion be relieved?

Nasal congestion can be relieved by the following:

  1. People who have a cold should stay away from irritants like smoking and powerful scents. Irritants like cigarette smoke and automobile exhaust can sometimes be the source of a congested and runny nose.
  2. Drink water. While treating a cold, staying hydrated can keep mucus thin and drain.
  3. Take a hot, steamy shower.
  4. Use a humidifier.
  5. Take a warm compress to clear nasal congestion.

What is causing congestion in my nose?

Anything that irritates or inflames the nasal tissues can result in nasal congestion. Allergies and infections like the flu, sinusitis or the common cold frequently cause nasal congestion and a runny nose.

How long does congestion in the nose last?

Mucous may turn white, yellow, or green after two or three days. This is normal and does not indicate that you require an antibiotic. Some symptoms can continue for up to 10 to 14 days, including runny or stuffy nose and cough. Over time, the symptoms become better.

Why does congestion clog up more at night?

Since the nose and sinuses have a tougher time draining at night, congestion frequently worsens. As a result, mucus builds up, making it difficult to breathe and maybe resulting in a morning headache brought on by sinusitis. Try elevating the head on a couple of pillows to help the sinuses drain more quickly.

Which sleeping position promote sinus drainage?

The ideal sleeping posture for concerns with sinus discharge and other sinus-related conditions is to sleep with your head up. Elevating your head while you sleep will encourage natural sinus drainage and lessen the possibility of excessive blood flow, which can lead to sinus congestion.

Can nasal congestion be cured?

The typical recovery time for a stuffy nose is one week. But if it doesn't, or if you experience congestion at particular times of the year, your doctor can help you determine whether you have allergies and provide the proper treatment to make any allergies less bothersome.

Which compress is better for congestion, heat or cold?

Warm compresses can relieve discomfort and pressure in your sinuses by opening up your sinus canal and reducing swelling. Lay down for about 15 minutes while covering your forehead and nose with a warm, damp washcloth. You can repeat this as frequently as necessary.

Can vitamin C treat nasal congestion?

Vitamin C cannot prevent nasal congestion. It only marginally lessens their duration and intensity.

Why doesn't the congestion go away?

A persistently stuffy nose could indicate allergies or some underlying condition. Untreated allergies can bring on both nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis. Persistent nasal congestion is treatable.

Which tea is helpful for nasal congestion?

In addition to hydrating you and clearing your sinuses with steam, ginger tea contains gingerol, an anti-inflammatory compound that soothes the irritation of your mucous membranes.

Does sneezing or nasal blowing worsen congestion?

A recent study discovered that doing so can aggravate a cold because the blow forces mucus into the nasal sinuses. A lot of pressure is created when someone blows their nose, worsening the congestion.

Does honey help people with nasal congestion?

Honey contains many antimicrobial agents that fight bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause sinus infections. It can relieve nasal congestion, irritated throats, and sinus congestion caused by too much mucous.

What pressure points are necessary to clean sinuses?

Put pressure on the area between your cheeks and jaw around your nose with your index and middle fingers. Move your finger in a circular motion. For a deeper massage, use your thumbs as opposed to your fingers. Continue for 30 to 60 seconds.

Does spicy food clear sinuses?

Spicy foods, such as chilli peppers, help clear sinuses. Capsaicin is a molecule present in hot foods that gives off a burning sensation when it comes into touch with human tissues. It irritates the mucous membrane, which causes a runny nose, softening any nasal blockage.

Updated on : 21 November 2022


Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES

12 Years Experience

Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More


Nikita Tyagi

Nikita Tyagi

BPharm (Jawaharlal Nehru Technical University, Hyderabad)

2 Years Experience

An enthusiastic writer with an eye for details and medical correctness. An avid reviewer and publisher. She emphasises authentic information and creates value for the readers. Earlier, she was involved in making ...View More

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