Nasal congestion

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Nasal congestion
Other namesNasal blockage, nasal obstruction, blocked nose, stuffy nose, plugged nose
Medical products for diminution of nasal congestion

Nasal congestion is the partial or complete blockage of nasal passages, leading to impaired nasal breathing, usually due to membranes lining the nose becoming swollen from inflammation of blood vessels.[1]


In about 85% of cases, nasal congestion leads to mouth breathing rather than nasal breathing.[2] According to Jason Turowski, MD of the Cleveland Clinic, "we are designed to breathe through our noses from birth—it's the way humans have evolved."[3] This is referred to as "obligate nasal breathing."[4]

Nasal congestion can interfere with hearing and speech. Significant congestion may interfere with sleep, cause snoring, and can be associated with sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome.[5] In children, nasal congestion from enlarged adenoids has caused chronic sleep apnea with insufficient oxygen levels and hypoxia. The problem usually resolves after surgery to remove the adenoids and tonsils, however the problem often relapses later in life due to craniofacial alterations from chronic nasal congestion.[6]


Nasal obstruction[edit]

Nasal obstruction characterized by insufficient airflow through the nose can be a subjective sensation or the result of objective pathology.[10] It is difficult to quantify by subjective complaints or clinical examinations alone, hence both clinicians and researchers depend both on concurrent subjective assessment and on objective measurement of the nasal airway.[11]

Prevalence of kyphosis has been linked to nasal obstruction in a study.[12]


According to WebMD, congestion can be addressed through the use of a humidifier, warm showers, drinking fluids, using a neti pot, using a nasal saline spray, and sleeping with one's head elevated. It also recommends a number of over the counter decongestants and antihistamines.[13] A 2012 study concluded that combining nasal sprays with "nasal breathing exercises" (NBE) led to improvement of symptoms. Though it may seem an odd recommendation, crying may also be helpful.[14]

The Cleveland Clinic also states that congestion may be a sign of a deviated septum, a condition that needs to be addressed by a doctor.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nasal congestion". MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. A.D.A.M., Inc.
  2. ^ Rao A, ed. (2012). Principles and Practice of Pedodontics (3rd ed.). New Delhi: Jaypee Brothers Medical Pub. pp. 169, 170. ISBN 9789350258910.
  3. ^ Turowski, Jason (2016-04-29). "Should You Breathe Through Your Mouth or Your Nose?". Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved 2020-06-28.
  4. ^ Bergeson PS, Shaw JC (October 2001). "Are infants really obligatory nasal breathers?". Clinical Pediatrics. 40 (10): 567–9. doi:10.1177/000992280104001006. PMID 11681824. S2CID 44715721.
  5. ^ de Oliveira, Pedro Wey Barbosa; Gregorio, Luciano Lobato; Silva, Rogério Santos; Bittencourt, Lia Rita Azevedo; Tufik, Sergio; Gregório, Luis Carlos (July 2016). "Orofacial-cervical alterations in individuals with upper airway resistance syndrome". Brazilian Journal of Otorhinolaryngology. 82 (4): 377–384. doi:10.1016/j.bjorl.2015.05.015. PMC 9448996. PMID 26671020.
  6. ^ Buschang PH, Carrillo R, Rossouw PE (March 2011). "Orthopedic correction of growing hyperdivergent, retrognathic patients with miniscrew implants". Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 69 (3): 754–62. doi:10.1016/j.joms.2010.11.013. PMC 3046301. PMID 21236539.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Nasal congestion at MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Update Date: 8/2/2011. Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro. Also reviewed by David Zieve.
  8. ^ "Blocked Nose, Restricted Air Flow". Aerin Medical. Archived from the original on 2016-08-26. Retrieved 2016-07-12.
  9. ^ Pacheco-Galván A, Hart SP, Morice AH (April 2011). "Relationship between gastro-oesophageal reflux and airway diseases: the airway reflux paradigm". Archivos de Bronconeumologia. 47 (4): 195–203. doi:10.1016/j.arbres.2011.02.001. PMID 21459504.
  10. ^ Wang DY, Raza MT, Gordon BR (June 2004). "Control of nasal obstruction in perennial allergic rhinitis". Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 4 (3): 165–70. doi:10.1097/00130832-200406000-00005. PMID 15126936. S2CID 20608574.
  11. ^ Wang DY, Raza MT, Goh DY, Lee BW, Chan YH (July 2004). "Acoustic rhinometry in nasal allergen challenge study: which dimensional measures are meaningful?". Clinical and Experimental Allergy. 34 (7): 1093–8. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2222.2004.01988.x. PMID 15248855. S2CID 28523614.
  12. ^ Šidlauskienė M, Smailienė D, Lopatienė K, Čekanauskas E, Pribuišienė R, Šidlauskas M (June 2015). "Relationships between Malocclusion, Body Posture, and Nasopharyngeal Pathology in Pre-Orthodontic Children". Medical Science Monitor. 21: 1765–73. doi:10.12659/MSM.893395. PMC 4484615. PMID 26086193.
  13. ^ Swiner, Carmelita (2020-01-27). "'How to Treat Nasal Congestion and Sinus Pressure". WebMD. Retrieved 2020-06-28.
  14. ^ Nair, Satish (2011-04-12). "Nasal Breathing Exercise and its Effect on Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis". Indian Journal of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery. 64 (2). Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg: 172–176. doi:10.1007/s12070-011-0243-5. PMC 3392338. PMID 23730580.
  15. ^ "Is Your Nose Working Against You? 5 Signs of a Deviated Septum". Cleveland Clinic. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 2020-06-28.

Further reading[edit]

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