Nasal congestion involves a stuffed or blocked feeling in the nose. There are various causes why this occurs. Depending on the cause, it can be brief or persistent. It is important to note that nasal congestion can affect individuals of all ages. Among adults and children, it is an upsetting symptom rather than a serious one. Among infants, a blocked nose can cause difficulty breathing or feeding.
Management of nasal congestion
If possible, the cause of nasal congestion should be treated. Nevertheless, the usual causes settle on their own over time. Luckily, there are treatment options that can improve a runny or stuffed nose.
Inhalation of steam
Place boiling water in a big basin or bowel. The individual should place his/her face over the bowl with a towel draped over the head. Inhale normally for 5-10 minutes.
For young children, the safest technique of steam inhalation should be done in the bathroom. Close the door and turn the setting of the shower to hot. Sit with the child for 5-10 minutes.
Salt water (saline solution)
Salt water is beneficial in clearing nasal congestion for a brief period. Saline drops are readily available over-the-counter or with a prescription. These are often used among infants who are congested.
Saline sprays and solutions can also be used to wash out the nasal passageways. These liquefy the blockage in the nose to promote easier drainage.
Menthol vapor, pastilles and rubs
There are several products that contain ingredients such as eucalyptus oil or menthol that are readily available over-the-counter for nasal congestion.
Decongestant sprays or drops
The decongestant sprays and drops are effective for nasal congestion but should be used for a maximum of 5-7 days. If used longer, it can lead to rebound congestion if using is discontinued.
These should not be used on children below the age of 6 years old. As for children 6-12 years old, they can be used for up to 5 days if other treatment options are not effective.
Decongestant syrups and tablets
Decongestants in liquid or tablet form are believed to be safer to use for a longer period if needed. The commonly used include phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine.
These drugs are available over-the-counter and as prescription. A doctor should be consulted first before using them since they are not ideal for everybody and likely to interact with other medications.
Steroid nasal sprays
Steroid nasal sprays are often used for nasal congestion especially if triggered by allergies such as hay fever or nasal polyps.
These sprays work by minimizing the swelling of the interior of the nose. The steroids are available in spray or drop forms that are applied directly into the interior of the nose. The sprays are safe to use for adults even on a long-term basis.