Nasal Congestion – how can I clear my blocked nose?

Nasal congestion often results from allergies, colds, or flu, and can lead to mild facial and head pain. It is caused by the inflammation and irritation of the membranes, which leads to nasal congestion and sinus pressure. The blood vessels become inflamed and excess mucus is produced as the body tries to flush out the irritant. As a sufferer you are often forced to breathe through your mouth.

The main solution to nasal congestion and sinus pressure is to keep the nasal passage and sinuses moist which can be done in in several different ways:

  • take a shower in which you breathe in plenty of steamy water vapour
  • put your head over a pot of hot water
  • use a nasal saline spray
  • put a wet towel on your face
  • use a humidifier or vaporiser
  • drink lots of fluids

You should avoid anything that will contribute to your inflammation, such as a chlorinated swimming pool, or exposure to dust and fine particles. Many people find that they sleep better if they prop up their head to help more comfortable breathing while they are congested and are breathing through their mouths.

Over the counter (OTC) you can buy decongestants which reduce swelling in the nasal passages and ease the pressure on your sinuses.  These decongestants should not be used for more than a week without consulting a doctor and should never be given to children who are younger than four.  If your congestion is caused by an allergy, such as hay fever, you could look at allergy medicines which will contain antihistamines to reduce sneezing and sniffing.

The consequences of nasal congestion can include interference with hearing and sleep and even contribute to sleep apnea (an arrest of normal breathing).

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