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Everyone suffers from nasal congestion periodically, but fortunately, many different remedies are available to help get rid of a stuffy nose. In some cases, congestion is caused by environmental factors, such as the presence of allergens or the level of humidity, and modifications to these environmental factors can help relieve the problem. In other cases, medication may be needed, and some medical problems, such as sinus infections, can be permanently cured or prevented with the right drugs. Other medical problems, particularly colds, cannot be cured medically, but the nasal congestion that they cause can be treated.
Stuffy noses are particularly common in the winter, because time spent in very dry winter air causes irritation of the nasal passages, which can lead to congestion. The cold of outside air also irritates the upper respiratory system. The best way to get rid of a stuffy nose caused by these environmental factors is to address the root causes. A humidifier adds moisture to the air and can help treat or prevent a stuffy nose caused by dry air, while a scarf or any other clothing that keeps the nose warm will protect the nose from cold air.
Allergies are another typical cause of nasal congestion. The easiest way to treat a stuffy nose caused by allergies is to remove or avoid the source of the reaction. Dust, mold, and pet allergies can all be partially or completely dealt with this way. If cleaning up or avoiding allergens isn’t an option, then antihistamines may help. These drugs block the overactive immune response that causes nasal congestion.
Most people will get sick with a cold at least once every year and sometimes even more frequently. The stuffy nose associated with a cold cannot be completely cured with medicine because colds are caused by viruses. Several treatments can temporarily relieve a stuffy nose caused by a cold, however. Decongestants, which work by opening airways and drying out the mucus membranes in the nose, can provide hours of relief. Saline treatments, which irrigate the nasal passages, are messy but can clear out the mucus.
In some cases, a stuffy nose may be the result of a sinus infection. Sinus passages extend through much of the face, and an infection will usually cause headaches in addition to a runny nose. A medical professional may need to diagnose a sinus infection. Most are viral and can be treated like colds. Some sinus infections are bacterial, however, and the only surefire way to get rid of a stuffy nose caused by a bacterial infection is a prescription for antibiotics.
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