Nasal congestion or “stuffy nose” occurs when nasal and adjacent tissues and blood vessels become swollen with excess fluid causing a “stuffy,” plugged feeling.
Nasal congestion can be caused by anything that irritates or inflames the nasal tissues. Infections – such as colds, flu or sinusitis and allergies are frequent causes of nasal congestion and runny nose. For adults, talk to a health care professional if:
You have blood in your nasal discharge or a persistent clear discharge after a head injury.
You have a high fever.
Your nasal discharge is yellow or green and you also have sinus pain or fever. This may be a sign of a bacterial infection.
Your symptoms last more than ten days.
For children, talk to a health care professional if:
Your baby's runny nose or congestion causes trouble nursing or makes breathing difficult.
Your child is younger than two months and has a fever.
Until you see your doctor, try these steps to relieve symptoms:
Avoid known allergic triggers.
For babies and small children, use a soft, rubber-bulb syringe to gently remove any secretions.
If your runny nose is a persistent, watery discharge, particularly if you're also sneezing and have itchy or watery eyes, your symptoms may be allergy-related, and an over-the-counter antihistamine may help. Be sure to follow the label instructions exactly.
Try sniffing and swallowing or gently blowing your nose.
To relieve postnasal drip when excess saliva (mucus) builds up in the back of your throat, try these measures:
Avoid common irritants such as cigarette smoke and sudden humidity changes.
Drink plenty of water because fluid helps thin nasal secretions.
Try nasal saline sprays or rinses.
Not all treatments, tests and services are available at all Mayo Clinic Health System locations. Check with your preferred location in advance.