Nasal Congestion

Nasal congestion is the condition when the nasal passages get blocked. This usually happens when the membranes lining the walls of nose get swollen due to inflammation of blood vessels. It is also known as stuffy nose or clogged nose.


There are many causes of nasal congestion ranging from mild to life threatening conditions. Nasal congestion in an infant can be very disturbing as the newborn child prefers to breathe through the nose. It also makes it difficult for the infant to breastfeed with nasal congestion.

Nasal congestion can also affect ears and speech. Nasal congestion causes snoring and may also interfere with sleep. It may also cause a mild headache.


Nasal congestion is caused by the following:

  • Flu

  • Common cold

  • Sinusitis (inflammation of sinuses)

  • Allergies

  • Hay fever

  • Nasal polyps

  • Rhinitis (swelling of inner nose)


As there are many causes of nasal congestion, the treatment depends on the root cause of the problem:

  • Alpha-adrenergic agonists are the drugs of first choice. They work by constricting the blood vessels of the nasal cavity. This relieves nasal congestion. Example include phenylephrine.

  • Influenza and common cold can be controlled by drugs like acetaminophen and aspirin. Although these conditions are self-limiting, these drugs fasten recovery.

  • Nasal decongestants are the group of drugs that directly target nasal congestion. These medications are available as nasal sprays and include drugs like naphazoline (Privine) and oxymetazoline (Afrin).

  • Nasal respirators are usually used for nasal congestion in infants. The mucus is sometimes thick and sticky. It cannot be expelled from nostrils making it necessary to use a nasal respirator.