There can be many reasons you always have a stuffy nose

Nose always stuffy? Colds, allergies and sinus infections are all reasons why you could have a stuffy nose.

If you feel like you always have a stuffy nose, it might be one of many reasons. Stuffy nose, or rhinitis, is caused by swelling or irritation in the nasal cavity. It can vary from mild to severe and last for a few days or may last for a few weeks.

Your body normally produces mucus to coat the lining of the nose, sinuses and throat. This helps with keeping the areas moist, trapping debris and fighting infection. Normally, the mucus slides down the throat into the digestive system and is flushed out of the body. Sometimes inflammation occurs and traps the mucus in place.

Why your nose is always stuffy

“Most of us have suffered a stuffy nose at some point,” said Monalisa M. Tailor, M.D., internal medicine physician with Norton Community Medical Associates. “Continued stuffiness can be uncomfortable and hard to treat if you don’t know what you’re dealing with.”

Here are top reasons for a stuffy nose:

  1. Allergies: Seasonal allergies appear when something in the environment is an allergen for you. Sources include pollen, dust, animal dander and mold.
  2. Nasal polyps: These are small, usually benign bumps that grow in the nose and sinuses. This can block airways and trap mucus.
  3. Deviated septum: The bone and cartilage that form the “wall” between each nostril is called the septum. If this wall is crooked, either from injury or the natural formation of the septum, it can block airflow and trap mucus.
  4. Sinusitis: When the lining of the sinuses are inflamed after an upper respiratory infection, it can block and trap mucus.

Care where you need it, when you need it

Norton Healthcare has a range of options when you have a stuffy nose.

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What to do about a stuffy nose

“First we need to identify what’s causing the stuffiness,” Dr. Tailor said. “Sometimes it’s hard to know if you have allergies or a cold, or if it’s something else.”

You might try one or two of these remedies for a stuffy nose:

  • Neti pot or nasal saline spray: This simple treatment involves flushing the nose and sinuses with saline solution.
  • Steam: This could be in the form of a hot shower or a cup of hot tea. You also can try putting your face over a pot of very hot water with a towel draped over you, forming a tent for the steam to collect.
  • Peppermint or eucalyptus: You can try a chest rub, cough drops or tea made from these natural decongestants.
  • Decongestants: Over-the-counter decongestants can help reduce swelling in the nose and sinuses, but be careful — you can make the stuffiness worse if you take these medications for more than four or five days. Some decongestants can raise your blood pressure. 

When should I see a provider?

Colds and sinus symptoms typically clear up in seven to 10 days. If your symptoms last longer than 10 days or you have new or worsening symptoms, see a provider to evaluate your symptoms.

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