Nasal congestion, also known as “a stuffy nose,” isn’t always caused by infection. Though upper respiratory tract infections are a common cause, weather changes, allergies, and hormonal changes can also lead to congestion.
Nasal congestion is usually due to inflammation as the body responds to a certain trigger, like viruses or allergens, says Brian Antono, MD, MPH, medical instructor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the Duke University School of Medicine. Nasal tissues and blood vessels swell up, limiting airflow and creating the stuffed-up feeling in the nose.
Additionally, you may have noticed that one side of your nose is more stuffed than the other. Congestion normally alternates between the two nostrils every four to six hours because of the nasal cycle, that’s why you can get stuffy on only one side. This isn’t usually a sign of anything dangerous.
Here’s what you need to know about the causes and treatment of nasal congestion.
What causes a stuffy nose?
Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs), such as the common cold, flu, or sinusitis
Dry air and sudden humidity changes
Irritants, like tobacco smoke or car exhaust
Allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander
Hormonal changes, like menstruation or pregnancy
How can you treat a stuffy nose?
When trying to alleviate nasal congestion, it’s important to avoid the irritants and allergens that may be causing your stuffed-up nose. In addition, there are also several remedies that you can try.