Many conditions including infections such as cold and flu, allergies or irritants can irritate nasal tissues and blood vessels, causing them to swell up. In order to get rid of the foreign substance that is causing the inflammation, the mucus membranes produce excess fluid. And this excess fluid causes congestion of the nasal passages. The affected person usually has a stuffy feeling in his/her nose thus, the condition is also known as "stuffy nose". Nasal condition is a symptom rather than being a medical condition in itself. Ailments like acute sinusitis, chickenpox, common cold, deviated septum, dry air, food allergies, measles, medications, etc., commonly have stuffy nose as one of their symptoms.
Getting Rid of Nasal Congestion
Mostly, stuffy nose can be managed with the help of a few self-care measures at home. Note that, for younger children and adults, the condition is nothing but a mere annoyance. But for infants, it can interfere with their breathing, and nursing. And in rare instances, it can also cause life-threatening respiratory problems.
✔ Inhaling steam is a natural and effective way to relieve a stuffy nose. Bring some water to boil, and pour it in a wide container. Now using a large towel, cover your head and ensure that it drapes itself over the container. This way it will trap the steam rising from the water. Inhale the steam deeply but slowly. Keep dong this for about 15 - 20 minutes. If you feel too much warmth inside, then take off the towel for sometime, before inhaling the steam again. Putting a few drops of eucalyptus oil in the water and inhaling the steam adds to the benefit of this steam therapy.
✔ Increase the level of moisture in your living room by using a humidifier or a cool mist vaporizer. You can apply saline nose drops in your nostrils. This will help loosen the dry secretions. To get rid of the nasal mucus, you can insert a nasal aspirator in the nostrils. Take care not to make too much use of such products, as they may cause irritation.
✔ Increase your fluid intake when you face problems such as stuffy nose. Drinking plenty of water helps loosen thick mucus thus, encouraging nasal drainage. Also, it helps flush out pathogens such as bacteria or virus from the system.
✔ Nasal irrigation is a popular home treatment method to relieve congested nasal passages. For this, you need to make a solution with table salt (1/8 tsp.) and 8 ounces of lukewarm water. Using a bulb syringe, draw some of this solution. Now lean over a sink and tilt your head to one side; left side for instance. Insert the tip of the syringe in your right nostril. Gently squeeze the bulb to squirt the liquid into your nose. Hold on to the same position until the solution drains out from the nose or mouth. Irrigate the other nostril too. You can repeat the irrigation until the fluid that comes out is clear. This process works because it flushes out mucus and irritants. (Note: always make use of distilled water, and a clean bulb syringe to avoid any infection. Also, after each use, the syringe needs to be cleaned, and rinsed with clean water.)
✔ Nasal congestion can keep a person from getting enough sleep. For this, experts recommend keeping the head elevated than the rest of the body. This could be done by sleeping on two pillows or more according to the level of comfort. This encourages drainage. Also, taking a warm shower before going to bed at night, reduces congestion and helps in sleeping.
Following the above tips are good enough for managing nasal congestion in adults and younger children. However, it is advisable for parents to see a doctor if their sick child is less than 2 months, and is also running a fever. Even in adults, if the congestion persists for more than seven days, then the odds are higher that there is something severe which requires medical attention.