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Nasal Congestion and Irritation

Nasal congestion is the result of fluid building up in the nasal passages, creating a feeling of being "stuffed up." Nasal congestion can make breathing through the nose very difficult or even impossible. There are many possible causes for nasal congestion, including allergies and/or irritants like tobacco smoke, paint fumes and even newsprint.
  • Nonallergic rhinitis is a condition in which the nose is chronically stuffy due to external irritants.
  • Nonallergic rhinitis can be brought on by a number of triggers, including those listed above, certain odors, changes in weather, foods, medications and other medical conditions.
Allergic rhinitis is caused by the body's immune response to allergens like pollen, mold and dander. During this immune process, the body releases histamine—a compound that produces an itchy feeling in the nose and causes sneezing, nasal congestion and/or discharge.

Temple's otolaryngologists aim to uncover the root cause of nasal congestion in order to provide effective treatment.

Nasal Congestion and Irritation Treatment

The first step in treating nasal congestion and irritation (rhinitis) is to discover the source of the problem. In general, rhinitis is caused by either allergies or irritants, so uncovering the root cause is essential to developing a treatment plan.

Allergic rhinitis is easily diagnosed in the physician's office by allergy skin testing. If the test is positive, Temple's otolaryngologists can utilize a variety of medical treatment options, including allergy shots. If the nasal symptoms are due to non-allergic irritants, Temple's treatment options are antihistamines and nasal sprays, including steroidal sprays.

In some patients, especially those with physical abnormalities in the nose, surgery may be a desired option. Temple's otolaryngologists employ CT imaging to detect a deviated septum in need of repair, or larger-than-normal nasal turbinates — the bones that jut out into the nasal cavity. Excessively large turbinates can block airflow and cause congestion and/or discharge. Nasal turbinate surgery may also be indicated if the nasal mucous membrane becomes thickened or inflamed, and fails to respond to medicinal treatments.