If your nose is dry, its various functions will be impaired. Try over-the-counter salt-water (saline) nasal mists and sprays to help maintain nasal health. These can be used liberally and at your discretion.
Beware of over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays (eg. Afrin). Prolonged use of these sprays may damage the nose and sinuses. Decongestants nasal sprays can become addictive and actually cause nasal congestion to get worse.
Think of your nose when you’re traveling. In airplanes and air-conditioned cruise ships the air is very dry and contains a lot of re-circulated particles and germs; a dry nose is more susceptible to germs. Use saline nasal mist frequently during the flight, and drink lots of water.
Stuffy nose or nasal congestion is a symptom caused by a remarkable array of different disorders, and San Francisco ENT and Allergy, with its unique two specialty approach and special interest in to managing nasal and sinus disorders, offers the appropriate treatment(s) based on the specific causes.
The causes of Nasal stuffiness or congestion and/or obstruction can be classified into four main categories:
Overlap can exist between these categories and that it is not unusual for a patient to have more than one factor involved,
1. Sinus Infections- acute and chronic
An average adult suffers a “common cold” two to three times per year. These viral infections occur more often in childhood because immunity strengthens with age. Sinus infections often follow a “cold”. When the nasal mucus turns from clear to yellow or green, it usually means that a bacterial sinus infection has set in and more intensive treatment, ie. antibiotics, may be necessary.
Symptoms of acute bacterial sinusitis:
- Symptoms of a cold lasting more than ten days
- Facial pressure or pain
- Nasal congestion and discharge – thick or discolored yellow or green
- Thick post-nasal drip
- Cough -persistent, especially at night
Treatment of acute bacterial sinusitis:
- Drinking plenty of fluids keeps nasal discharge thin
- Saline nasal sprays - moisturizing reduces dryness and helps clear thick mucus.
- Humidification (moisturizing the air) especially in the winter
- OTC cough and cold medicines ..only hlp relive symptoms
- Oral or nasal spray decongestants ( Avoid prolonged use of decongestant sprays)
- Inhaling steam or using saline nasal sprays.
- Antibiotic therapy
- Avoid air travel. If you must fly, use a nasal spray decongestant before landing.
Allergy testing, and treatment, may help prevent recurrent acute sinusitis.
If this sinus infection goes untreated it can become chronic, and become far more difficult to treat.
May be the result of nasal polyps, a deviated nasal septum, trauma to the face, allergies, complications from immune disorder, recurrent acute infections, and structural abnormalities.
when persist for more than three months..
- Chronic cold like symptoms like nasal congestion,
- Discolored nasal discharge,
- Postnasal discharge
- Facial pressure and headaches.
- Change in smell and taste
- Chronic cough
Treatment of chronic sinusitis
- Usually requires antibiotics
- May require oral steroids
- Sinus saline or steroid rinsing
- If doesn't respond to conservative treatment, may require more investigation eg. sinus CT scan, allergy testing, which will help in confirming the diagnosis and planning future treatment.
- May require sinus and or/nasal surgery , especially if there are associated nasal polyps.. eg. functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS)
2. Structural abnormalities
Deformities of the nose and deviated nasal septum
Can obstruct breathing –These are usually the result of an injury, often
unrecognized, many having occurred in childhood and long forgotten.
Treatment: A Septoplasty is the treatment of choice for this condition.
It is a same day relatively minor procedure.
Enlargement of the nasal turbinates
large structures along the inside of the nose, can be a major cause of nasal
obstruction. They are often enlarged from chronic nasal allergy and nasal
Treatment: radio - frequency turbinate reduction. A simple, pain free in-office procedure without undergoing surgery.
This option can provide dramatic and permanent relief of chronic nasal congestion.
3. Nasal Allergies
Allergic rhinitis (See ALLERGY section)
Seasonal allergic rhinitis — known as hay fever - usually due to trees, grasses and weed pollens, and mold spores. Are more common in spring and summer.
Perennial allergic rhinitis,-usually due to dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, and/or foods.
4. Non-allergic or Vasomotor Rhinitis
Has similar year round symptoms to perennial allergic rhinitis and can mimic allergic rhinitis.
Nerves control the blood vessels and membranes in the nose have an abundant supply of blood vessels, which have the ability to expand and constrict. This particularly affects the nasal turbinates which are extremely vascular.
Under certain circumstances these nasal blood vessels expand, leading to vasomotor rhinitis.
- changes in the weather, barometric pressure and/or temperature.
- psychological stress,
-inadequate thyroid function,
- some blood pressure drugs,
- prolonged overuse of decongestant nasal sprays,
- exposure to irritants like perfumes and tobacco smoke.
- Nasal saline sprays
- Nasal drying sprays eg. Ipatropium