Nasal congestion is a pretty common medical occurrence. Because it is pervasive, we might take it for granted. We might skip thinking about what causes it and how to make it go away as soon as possible.
Here is an in-depth look at nasal congestion. We will examine its causes, symptoms, potential risks if untreated, and how to treat it.
What is Nasal Congestion?
Nasal congestion, colloquially known as stuffy nose, develops when nasal tissues and their adjacent tissues plus blood vessels swell with excess fluids. People with nasal congestion feel that their nasal cavities are plugged and feeling stuffy.
Congestion may be accompanied by a nasal discharge, commonly known as a runny nose.
Is Nasal Congestion Dangerous?
It is barely a nuisance for adults and older children; the slight difficulty breathing is annoying. But for young children, it is more than a nuisance. And for infants, it can be more dangerous.
For young children, the “simple” nasal congestion may cause the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Vomiting and nausea
- Unprecedented sleepiness
- Irregular sleeping
- Severe headache
- Ear pain
- Constant crying
If nasal congestion symptoms manifest in young children, it may be time to take them to a pediatrician. If left untreated, nasal congestion can do more severe damage. The medical occurrence may cause learning impairment or damages to their organs.
For babies, It may impede their ability to feed. The blockages in their nasal cavities make breathing more complicated while they suck. The common symptoms of nasal congestion among babies include:
- Snoring or noisy breathing while asleep
- Thick or discolored nasal mucus
- Trouble eating
What are the Causes ?
There are a lot of medical concerns that may lead to nasal congestion.
Chronic rhinitis is one of the most prevalent causes of nasal congestion among children. It is characterized by the daily manifestation of symptoms for at least half an hour daily or the persistence of symptoms for two or more months. The causes of chronic rhinitis may be allergic or nonallergic.
Allergic rhinitis (AR) is the most prevalent chronic disease among children. However, AR is often left undiagnosed and untreated due to many factors, such as children’s inability to verbalize symptoms or mistaking the condition as a common cold.
AR is a result of an allergic reaction and results in inflammation around the nasal cavities. It can be persistent or intermittent depending on the duration of the symptoms and the type of allergens involved. The classifications “persistent” and “intermittent” used to be seasonal and perennial, but these classifications are not globally applicable.
Other Potential Causes
There are other potential causes more specific than chronic rhinitis or allergic rhinitis. These causes are:
- Hay fever
- Noncancerous growths in the nasal passages called nasal polyps
- Chronic sinusitis
- Chemical exposures
- Deviated septum
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Exposure to irritants like cigarette smoke, dust, or perfume
How to Treat Nasal Congestion
Just as there are many potential causes of nasal congestion, there are also many treatments for it.
How to Treat Among Babies
There are no cures and treatments for common viruses that might affect babies. If babies contract a mild virus, there is not much you can do except care for them. Keep them as comfortable as possible, feed them frequently, and make sure they get enough sleep.
If a baby can sit up, they may enjoy a warm bath. A warm bath may do two things for the baby.
One is the baby will get distracted with the perceived playtime and forget about their discomfort. The second benefit of a warm bath is that it may decongest the baby’s nasal passageways.
Humidifier or Steam
A running humidifier in the room while the baby is asleep can help loosen the nasal mucus and provide temporary relief. Another option is exposing the baby to steam for a few minutes multiple times a day. The safest way to expose the baby to steam is to run a hot shower and sit in the steamy bathroom with the baby.
Nasal Saline Drops
Saline drops may loosen nasal mucus and help clear nasal congestion. Consult your doctor about their recommended saline brands. One or two drops into the nose may help clear even thick mucus.
Nasal saline drops are recommended just before a feeding.
Breast Milk into the Nose
Breast milk may be just as effective in loosening nasal mucus as saline drops. During feeding, you can drop breast milk into the baby’s nose. Be on the watch, though; the mucus might slide right out when you sit the baby up.
Breast milk into the nose is not a suggested treatment if it interferes with the baby’s feeding.
Your baby might find a gentle massage on the bridge of their nose, cheekbones, hairline, eyebrows, and the bottom of their head soothing.
DO NOT Use Medication or Vapor Rub
Most medications for nasal congestion are ineffective or unsafe for babies. Vapor rub products are often dangerous to children under two years old. It is the baby’s natural method of clearing out viruses, so just let it be and soothe the baby as much as you can.
How to Treat Nasal Congestion Among Young Children
Oral antihistamines help treat allergies. If this is somehow not an option, nasal sprays that contain antihistamines may do the job.
You can spray nasal steroids into the nasal cavities. They will help reduce the swelling in the nasal passageways and unblock them.
Antibiotics or Over-the-Counter Decongestants
Antibiotics and over-the-counter decongestants may help treat nasal congestion if a virus causes the problem.
Speak to Experts
If nasal congestion persists, it is best to speak to experts – doctors or pediatricians. Doctors can diagnose the problem and find the cause. If they know the cause, they can provide the right treatment plan.ENT Allergy & Sinus Center specializes in treating allergies and problems in the sinus. Reach out to us to learn more about how we can help you manage persistent nasal congestion.