expert ENT care.
Otolaryngology (ENT)/Head and Neck Surgery
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.