Post nasal drip and nasal congestion are very common conditions. A stuffed up nose is not caused by mucus as often thought but rather by inflamed nasal tissue lining.

Symptoms & Causes

Your physician will work with you to discover the causes of your symptoms. Nasal congestion is most often caused by sinusitis or allergies. Contact your doctor if you have blurred vision, swelling of the forehead, coughing fits for more than 10 days or a stuffy nose lasting longer than a couple weeks.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Your doctor might conduct further tests following your discussion; these may include a nasal endoscopy, sinus CT, an allergy skin test, or blood test. Depending upon the findings the physician will then prescribe either a home remedy, over-the-counter medicine like pseudoephedrine, or a nasal spray. The doctor might also write you a prescription for an oral decongestant or antibiotics if he or she thinks that might help most.

Bacterial infection is treated with antibiotics, but these drugs may provide only temporary relief. In cases of chronic sinusitis open surgery to open the blocked sinuses or drainage pathways may be required. Allergy is managed by avoiding the cause where possible. Antihistamines and decongestants, nasal sprays, various other forms of steroids, and allergy shots may be used. However, some antihistamines may dry and thicken secretions even more; decongestants can aggravate high blood pressure, heart, and thyroid disease (these drugs are commonly found in non-prescription medications for colds). Steroid sprays generally may be used safely for years under medical supervision. Gastroesophageal reflux is treated by elevating the head of the bed six to eight inches, avoiding late evening meals and snacks, and eliminating alcohol and caffeine. Antacids (e.g. Maalox, Mylanta, Gaviscon) and drugs that block stomach acid production (e.g. Zantac, Tagamet, Pepcid) may be prescribed. A trial of treatment may be suggested before x-rays and other diagnostic studies are performed.

Prevention

Preventing nasal congestion is like preventing the common cold: pretty difficult. Wash your hands frequently, avoid germs, use a humidifier, and make sure not to put too much pressure on your nose.