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Respiratory system

Nasal congestion - Breathing is necessary

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Nasal congestion is an unpleasant condition, which can lead to despair in looking for a solution to relieve symptoms.

Nasal congestion, popularly known as "stuffy nose", is the obstruction/blockage of the nasal passages.


What causes nasal congestion?

Nasal congestion results from the vasodilation of the blood vessels lining the nose, causing an inflammation, and swelling of the nasal mucosa.

There are several reasons for nasal congestion:  

  • Cold or flu; 

  • Allergic rhinitis and / or sinusitis; 

  • Medicated rhinitis (caused by the prolonged use of nasal decongestants); 

  • Presence of foreign bodies in the nose (frequent in children); 

  • Deviated septum; 

  • Tobacco; 

  • Hormonal changes (e.g. pregnancy). 

It is important to know the cause of nasal congestion, as it can only be solved when the origin of the disease is known.

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis

Know how to identify nasal congestion

Sometimes the source of nasal congestion is not easy to identify.

The most common symptoms are the following: 

  • Nasal congestion associated with a cold, usually affects both nostrils, with headaches and cough at the same time.  

  • In case of allergic rhinitis, it is common to sneeze, rhinorrhoea (runny nose) and nasal itching can occur, and the eyes may be itchy and watery.

  • Medicated rhinitis, which results from the use of nasal decongestants, is associated with chronic nasal congestion, and bleeding of the nasal passages may occur.

Let’s clear the 

It is important to act as soon as thick nasal discharge starts to develop so that it can become more fluid and be excreted through the nose.

Take the following measures into account:   

  • Blow your nose regularly (but not too hard); 

  • Wash the nasal cavities with seawater or saline solutions several times a day,   

  • Drink more fluids (to make secretions more fluid); 

  • Avoid drinking alcohol, caffeine, and smoking (they cause dryness of the nasal mucosa); 

  • Inhale water vapour for at least 10 minutes in the bath or use a nebuliser; 

  • For babies, use the appropriate nasal aspirator to remove mucus.

Nasal decongestant

When the aforementioned measures are not effective, or if the symptoms are very painful and bothersome, it may be necessary to simultaneously use specific medication for symptom relief, known as nasal decongestant.

Nasal decongestants reduce the swelling of the blood vessels in your nose (vasoconstriction effect), which helps to open the airways, and promotes the discharge of secretions.

There are two types of nasal decongestants: 

  • Topical - in the form of spraygel, and nasal drops.  They are applied directly to the nose and have a faster and more localized action. 

  • Systemic they are taken orally, more time and higher doses needed to take the desired effect. They are often present in anti-flu formulas. 

Applying nasal drops

Learn how to apply a nasal decongestant

General and essential steps for a correct application: 

  • Each package must be individual (belong to only one person); 

  • Before applying the decongestant, clean your nose with saline solution and blow your nose (this is important to get the desired effect); 

  • Wash your hands before and after application. 

Cares to be taken during application depending on the system used 

  • Drops - Tilt your head back, apply to each nostril and slowly rotate your head to both sides. Stay in this position for some time.  

  • SprayKeep your head straight, cover one nostril with a finger and apply the medication in the other nostril, inhaling slightly. Exhale through your mouth and at the end, remove the inhalation piece and wash with water. Avoid blowing your nose after applying the decongestant.  

Remember that using nasal decongestants frequently is not recommended, they should be used within a maximum period of 5 days.

Excessive and prolonged use of nasal decongestants can aggravate nasal decongestion instead of improving it.

Applying nasal spray
Applying nasal spray

Keep in mind that!

Nasal decongestants, both topic and systemic, should be used with caution in patients with heart problems, hypertension, diabetes, glaucoma, and benign prostatic hyperplasia.

The use of these medications is not recommended in case of rhinitis during pregnancy and medicated rhinitis.

If you are not sure about this, talk to your pharmacist or doctor. 


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