Can’t breathe through your nose properly? A blocked or congested nose is a common problem often linked to allergies or infections . Luckily, whether you have a cold or are suffering from congestion, there’s usually a way to help you find relief and breathe easier.
What is a blocked nose?
There are lots of different ways we describe a blocked nose, such as being ‘stuffed up’ or ‘bunged up’, or your doctor may use the term nasal or sinus congestion, but whatever you call it, being blocked up comes down to having difficulties with the airflow through your nose.
Why is your nose blocked? It’s usually because of two things – inflammation and mucus.
When something irritates your nose, the inside lining becomes inflamed and swollen, making your nasal passages narrower. This hampers the flow of air making it harder for you to breathe through your nose.
At the same time, your nose may start to produce more mucus (to try and flush out any infection or irritation) which, when added to swollen passages in the nose, can make things worse!
Depending on the cause, you have trouble breathing through one or both nostrils, or the ‘blockage’ may alternate from one side to the other.
A blocked nose may mean:
You start breathing through your mouth.
Your sleep is affected, so you may feel tired during the day.
Babies and young infants have trouble breastfeeding or taking a bottle.
A blocked nose may also occur with other symptoms such as:
Why is my nose constantly blocked?
Some people can feel like they have a constantly blocked nose when they have allergies :
- Hayfever is usually a seasonal problem, but pollen seasons can last for months and you may be allergic to more than one type of pollen
- You may be allergic to something in your home that is constantly all around you, such as dust mites.
What causes a blocked nose?
There are lots of different things that can trigger a blocked nose, the most common include:
- Allergies such as seasonal hayfever linked to
- pollen or persistent all-year allergies due to things like dust mites
- Infections that affect your nose, throat or upper airways such as a cold or flu or your sinusitis
Other causes of a blocked nose can include:
Dry nasal tissues
- Irritation from smoke, fumes or strong smells
- An injury to the nose or other structural problems
- As a side-effect of medication you may be taking for another health condition
- Overusing nasal decongestant sprays that contain Xylometazoline Hydrochloride, which should not be used for more than 3 days
A blocked nose usually clears up after a few days but sometimes it can last for longer and may need treatment. It’s important to get things checked out by your doctor, particularly if you are unsure about what is causing it, your child has a fever as well as a blocked nose, or your baby’s blocked nose is causing feeding or breathing problems.
A blocked nose and sinus problems
Suffering with a blocked nose is also a common problem when you have sinusitis, which is when your sinuses have become inflamed or infected.
In most cases, this happens after a cold or flu-like illness and the infection has spread to your sinuses.
Other symptoms linked to sinusitis include:
- A runny nose with green or yellow coloured mucus
- Pain or pressure over the affected sinus
- A headache
- Reduced sense of smell
How to get rid of a blocked nose
When treating a blocked nose, it’s important to think about what the cause may be. For example, could it be an allergy, an infection, or some other trigger? Knowing this can help guide you to the best options for your particular type of blocked nose.
- If your blocked nose is caused by an allergy try to avoid or reduce your exposure to allergens, although this may not always be possible.
- Using a simple non-medicated saline nasal spray or sinus wash, such as FLO Saline Plus and FLO Sinus Care for adults or FLO Baby Saline Spray or Drops and FLO Kids Saline Spray for children, can help gently wash away allergens, irritants or thick mucus and help moisturise and soothe dry nasal tissues.
When a blocked nose is still a problem, you can talk to your pharmacist or doctor about medications that may help relieve your symptoms. These include:
- Antihistamine nasal sprays such as Eze Allergy which can help relieve hayfever and other allergy symptoms, such as a blocked nose as well as sneezing and a runny or itchy nose
- A decongestant nasal spray such as FLO Rapid Relief to help quickly unblock your nose and dry up a runny nose. But remember to follow the instructions when using decongestants and do not use FLO Rapid Relief for more than 3 days or as directed or this may make things worse.
- A corticosteroid nasal spray can help reduce inflammation in the nose and clear nasal symptoms such as a blocked, itchy or runny nose.
A blocked nose may last for only a few days or it may be a long-term problem, depending on the cause.
A blocked nose is often a symptom of an infection such as a cold, in which case, it will usually clear up in a few days.
If your blocked nose is caused by hayfever, it may last for a few weeks or months depending on which pollen type or other allergen you are allergic to.
You should talk to your doctor if your blocked nose lasts longer than 1-2 weeks, you have other symptoms such as a fever or you are feeling very unwell.
There are several reasons why you may get a blocked nose when you go to sleep. Some may be easily remedied while others you may need to talk to your healthcare provider about.
- A blocked nose can be caused by the tissues in your nasal cavity becoming swollen due to inflammation and the build-up of fluid, which can often become worse when lying down.
- Lying flat may also make it hard for excess mucus to drain away
- The position you sleep in may also reduce the air flowing through your nose.
Preservative free, non-medicated saline drops or sprays are a simple way to help clear a blocked nose:
For older children there’s FLO Kids Saline Spray to help thin mucus and make it easier to blow out.
ALWAYS READ THE LABEL AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS FOR USE