When cold and flu season strikes, the congestion that arises in the nose is not caused by the thick pockets of mucus many people imagine is the source of the problem. A stuffy nose develops when the membranes lining the nose become swollen with the inflammation of blood vessels. The end results are uncomfortable and can drive one crazy, as they attempt to unblock the clogged feeling that is taking over their nose.
While a cold, allergies, or other sinus-related condition are often behind nose congestion, stuffiness is caused by many other events, such as a reaction to spicy food or high levels of stress. As a result, the nasal region feels heavy and expanded, accompanied by blocked and clogged sensations of discomfort. Sometimes the voice may change and as you reach for an over-the-counter product (such as a nasal spray), you may even worsen the problem. This is why an increasing amount of people seeks natural cures for their stuffy nose.
Causes of a Stuffy Nose
Stuffy noses are caused when an inflammation of the nose and nasal membranes occurs as a result of blood vessel interruption. In the nose, an intricate system of arteries, capillaries, and veins are present, which possess an impressive capacity to expand and constrict. Usually, the blood vessels are half-constricted and half-open for the most part, but when a person undergoes influential changes (such as stimulated hormones), the “squeezing” of the nasal membranes takes place Ė allowing a person to breathe freely with opened-up air passages .
However, when allergies strike or the common cold surfaces, blood in the vessels expand and the membrane becomes congested, meaning the nasal region fills with an excess of blood. The blockage causes a stuffy nose to develop. The occurrence also surfaces when one overuses decongesting nasal sprays or the nose becomes compromised by irritating elements, such as tobacco smoke and strong perfumes. Pregnancy, psychological stress, a malfunctioning thyroid, and some high blood pressure medication may also lead to a stuffy nose.
Some of the most common causes of a stuffy nose include:
a) Hay Fever and Allergies: This type of stuffy nose usually brings about a clear, watery discharge, itchiness in the eyes, and sneezing.
b) Sinus Infection : Sinus infections cause stuffy noses to develop, where thick, (yellow-green) nasal discharge, and painful tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones are common symptoms. Usually, this condition worsens when the head is bent forward.
c)Vasomotor Rhinitis: When nasal congestion is not caused by bacteria or allergies, dry air irritants and other forms of pollution may affect nasal membranes.
d) Deviated Septum: Injury to the nose, such as a deviated septum, will cause constant stuffiness because of the blockage and obstruction caused by damage to the nasal region. Usually, an individual must undergo surgery to gain relief.
e) Additional Causes: The blood vessels in the nose may expand as a response to vigorous exercise, cold air, spicy foods, anti-anxiety medications, diuretics, birth control pills, erectile dysfunction medication (Viagra), beta blockers, and stress.
Negative Effects of Stuffy Nose
Usually, the kind of stuffy nose that a bacteria or virus is responsible for will slowly disappear within a week on its own or with treatment. Under these circumstances, a stuffy nose has the potential to cause more than just irritating discomfort, especially when it comes to newborns, young children, and adolescents. In regards to newborns, a baby must breathe through their nose. When serious stuffiness develops during the first couple of months in their lives, nursing may become disrupted and life-threatening breathing issues may develop.
Older children and teenagers battling heavy nasal congestion could face a range of difficulties that have the potential to become an issue with their schooling and overall development. Stuffy noses can sometimes interfere with the ears, hearing, and speech maturity. Deep congestion may also cause interference in sleeping patterns, including snoring habits, where the worst cases bring about a lapse in breathing during the middle of the night (sleep apnea).
In children, the adenoids may enlarge due to their nasal congestion when sleep apnea is chronic. Adenoids are a masses of lymphoid tissue located in the very back of the nose (about the roof of the nasopharynx), where the nose and the mouth meet . Insufficient oxygen levels sometimes lead to right-sided heart failure, which is preventable with surgery, which removes the adenoids and tonsils.
When you suspect a more pressing problem associated with a stuffy nose, you may notice the following signs and symptoms:
a) Long Coughing Spells: It is suggested to call a doctor when coughing persists longer than 10 days. The presence of yellow-green or gray sputum (mucus or phlegm) should be noted to physicians.
b) Persistent Stuffy Nose: When a patient suffers congestion of the nose that lasts longer than two weeks, it is recommended to seek medical attention. The disruption of daily activities from nasal congestion is also cause for concern that a doctor may have an answer.
c) Swelling of the Face: The eyes, forehead, side of the nose, and cheeks may become swollen when a stuffy nose affects other parts of the body.
d) Blurry Vision: Issues with vision, such as blurriness, may surface when nasal congestion is at its worse.
e) Throat Pain: An increase in throat pain is cause for concern that a call to medical professionals may solve.
f) White or Yellow Spots: The throat may showcase white or yellow spots on the tonsil and other parts of the throat.
Natural Cures for Stuffy Nose
A trip to the grocery store or pharmacy will bring you closer to a wealth of over-the-counter products that promise quick relief from nasal congestion. Nasal sprays, nasal drops, lozenges, and liquid remedies are just some of the selections to consider. However, more and more people wish to explore the world of natural treatments to receive quick and effective ease of symptoms without the use of chemicals or possible irritants. A few to consider includes:
a) Tinctures : Use echinacea, marsh mallow, elderflower, and thyme to create a remedy by combining one teaspoon of equal parts of each tincture with warm water. This natural cure for a stuffy nose should be taken three times daily. This is especially helpful to treat sinus congestion that is accompanied by yellow- and green-colored mucus.
b) Yarrow: This herb is known to treat the mucous membranes of the nose, which also reduces the production of mucus.
c) Eucalyptus: Create a steam inhalation by infusing 15 grams of eucalyptus with 750 milliliters of boiling hot water. Inhale the mixture for 10 minutes. Five to 10 drops of essential oil is also acceptable for this remedy.
d) Garlic: When grinding garlic to produce juice, you may mix the liquid with honey and a squeeze of juice from the aloe plant. Next, soak two cotton balls with the mixture and place them in your nostrils for about 5 to 10 minutes.
e) Hot Recipe : Mix 1/3 cup of jalapeno pepper juice, two tablespoons of chili powder, and a pinch of salt in a small- to medium-sized sauce pan. Fill the rest of the space with water. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and place the pan on top of the stove (cutting off the burner), making a tent to cover your face using a towel. Deeply inhale until the steam disappears.
f) Apple Cider Vinegar: Combine a Ĺ cup each of apple cider vinegar and water, placing the mixture in the microwave on high until boiling. Make a tent over the bowl and breathe in the steam. Although the eyes, nose, and everything else seem to run, this natural cure is quite effective for treating a congested nose.
g) Onions: When sniffing an onion, you cause irritation within the nose that stimulates runniness, which ultimately helps unblock stuffy nasal membranes.
h) Zinc: Taking a zinc supplement helps heighten a person’s sense of smell that has weakened with a stuffy nose. It is recommended to take a 50-milligram supplement that helps to improve congested sinuses.
i) Vitamin C: A decent stuffy nose treatment involves taking an ample amount of vitamin C, which lends a hand in unblocking a congested nose. It is not suggested to take more than 500 milligrams on a daily basis without consulting your physician.
 The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Chevallier (pg. 300)