Nasal congestion, also known as a stuffy or blocked nose, is a common ailment that affects millions of people of all ages. It can cause discomfort and breathing difficulties and disrupt daily activities.
You may know the typical causes of nasal congestion, such as allergies, colds, sinus infections, and structural abnormalities like a deviated septum. However, some lesser-known factors can also contribute to nasal congestion.
ENT specialist Dr. Philip T. Ho at Silicon Valley ENT & Sinus Center in Los Gatos, California, shares information about three lesser-known causes of nasal congestion that may surprise you.
Beyond common allergens like pollens and dust, various environmental irritants can trigger nasal congestion.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in cleaning products, air fresheners, and certain paints can irritate the nasal passages, leading to congestion. Similarly, exposure to tobacco smoke, whether directly or indirectly, can cause inflammation and nasal blockage.
Strong odors, such as perfumes or chemicals, can also trigger congestion in sensitive individuals. You can alleviate nasal congestion symptoms by identifying and minimizing exposure to these irritants.
Weather fluctuations can also contribute to nasal congestion. Dry air, especially in winter when heating systems are in use, can dry out the nasal passages, causing congestion. On the other hand, high humidity can promote the growth of mold and dust mites, triggering allergic reactions and congestion in susceptible individuals.
Certain medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, can contribute to nasal congestion as a side effect.
For instance, nasal decongestant sprays can cause a rebound effect when used for an extended period, leading to worsening congestion. Some blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and hormonal contraceptives may also contribute to nasal stuffiness.
Don’t stop a prescribed medication if you suspect it’s causing nasal congestion. However, Dr. Ho recommends scheduling a visit for further evaluation. It’s possible that adjusting the dosage or selecting an alternative can help.
Hormonal changes can affect various functions in the body, including nasal congestion. Women may experience nasal congestion during certain phases of their menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause.
Fluctuating hormone levels during these times can lead to swelling of the nasal passages and increased mucus production, resulting in congestion. Although hormonal nasal congestion is usually temporary, it can cause significant discomfort.
Dr. Ho notes that managing hormone-related congestion may involve saline nasal sprays, staying hydrated, and seeking relief through natural remedies like steam inhalation or warm compresses.
Schedule a visit with Dr. Ho at Silicon Valley ENT & Sinus Center today for help with nasal congestion. Call the office or request an appointment online.