Stuffy nose – causes, treatment

Stuffy nose

Anyone who has a blocked nose and thus restricted nasal breathing does not necessarily have to have a cold . The cause can also lie elsewhere – for example in a malformation of the nasal septum , in polyps or an allergy , as a result of which the nose swells up.

What is a stuffy nose?

It is clear, however, that a blocked nose can itself become the cause of illnesses. Prolonged obstructed nasal breathing can have numerous health consequences.

A blocked nose is therefore a nose that no longer allows normal nasal breathing, or only a little. Impeded nasal breathing can be caused by a variety of reasons. A stuffy nose makes you breathe through your mouth instead.

This makes the organism more susceptible to infections . Impeded nasal breathing is therefore usually treated in acute cases. If you have a blocked nose and obstructed nasal breathing for more than 14 days, you should consult an ENT doctor.


There are many causes of nasal congestion and obstructed nasal breathing. The simplest is a sniffle. Various circumstances can lead to sinusitis and bronchitis . You can also have middle ear problems . A stuffy nose can also occur together with a laryngitis .

If there is a general susceptibility to infection , the blocked nose can become a permanent condition. It can lead to snoring with or without breathing pauses or affect the sense of smell and taste. As a result, it can gradually lead to high blood pressure in the pulmonary circulation. Impeded nasal breathing can lead to a lack of oxygen in the brain. Polyps can also cause nasal congestion. Headaches , memory disorders or erectile dysfunction can be the result.

Crooked nasal septums, allergies or poorly healed nasal bone fractures can lead to obstructed nasal breathing. Rarely, enlarged tonsils and tumors in the nasal region also cause nasal congestion. In young children, obstructed nasal breathing and nasal congestion can be due to objects accidentally inhaled or stuck in the nostril.

diseases with this sympto

Diagnosis & History

In order to obtain a diagnosis of obstructed nasal breathing and nasal congestion in the case of a disorder not related to a cold, a visit to an ENT doctor is required . This examines the inside of the nose with specific instruments and can then outline a probable course of the disease.

The stuffy nose is usually clearly due to a cause that can be remedied with medication or surgery. It is important that the obstructed nasal breathing is remedied in the long term. The diagnosis of a blocked nose determines the therapy.

Impeded nasal breathing can usually be remedied quickly in the course of treatment. If the stuffy nose is due to a chronic cold or allergies, the symptoms can be relieved, at least temporarily.


A stuffy nose is caused by various causes, which can lead to different complications. This often occurs as part of a cold or a runny nose. Due to the swelling of the nasal mucosa, the passages to the paranasal sinuses are sometimes completely closed.

As a result, the pathogen can spread unhindered in these and infect them, which can result in inflammation of the paranasal sinuses (sinusitis). The pathogen can also spread towards the middle ear and cause inflammation there (otitis media). Sinusitis itself also causes nasal congestion. If left untreated, the disease can return again and again and take on a chronic course.

In some cases, the disease can spread through the throat into the airways, causing bronchitis or laryngitis. Inflammation of the frontal sinus can break through the bone and thus spread to the eye. Impairment of vision and eye movement are possible, which can even lead to blindness .

In addition, the disease can also spread in the direction of the brain and meninges, causing inflammation (encephalitis or meningitis). The affected person usually suffers from stiff neck and migraines . Paralysis and epileptic seizures can also be triggered. If pus forms, an abscess can form in the brain and worsen the symptoms.

When should you go to the doctor?

If you have a blocked nose, you don’t need to see a doctor straight away. As a rule, there is already a significant improvement after three to four days. However, a stuffy nose can very quickly develop into a flu-like infection, which may require medication. A stuffy nose is caused by bacteria and viruses that settle in the nasal mucous membranes.

Under certain circumstances, these pathogens can spread throughout the body, so that other side effects can occur. These include an elevated temperature, dizziness, nausea or vomiting. As soon as the first signs of these side effects appear, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. Appropriate medication can effectively alleviate the individual symptoms. However, if you do not seek treatment from a doctor at this point, you are taking a risk.

There is a high probability that the individual symptoms will worsen considerably, resulting in a serious flu illness. The following therefore applies: A blocked nose is definitely not a clinical picture that must be treated by a doctor. However, if there is no significant improvement after a few days, drug treatment is advisable.

Treatment & Therapy

Often the treatment for a stuffy nose involves the use of nasal sprays . Most nasal sprays are harmful if ingested over a long period of time, and some are addictive. It is better to treat a blocked nose with seawater sprays, saltwater inhalations or homeopathic nasal sprays.

If the obstructed nasal breathing is due to an allergy, the blocked nose can be relieved with antihistamines or cortisone . Laser therapy can treat nasal congestion caused by enlarged turbinates. A septoplasty or sinus surgery also fixes a stuffy nose.

Disabled nasal breathing can now also be cured with a sinuplasty. Adenoids, polyps in children and nasal polyps in adults must be removed if they result in obstructed nasal breathing. An acutely blocked nose is fundamentally to be distinguished from chronically obstructed nasal breathing.

Outlook & Forecast

A stuffy nose is usually the result of an infection, which should usually clear up within a week. In many cases, a stuffy nose is accompanied by other cold symptoms, such as fever , chills , a dry cough and a general feeling of being unwell.

Anyone who completely foregoes treatment must reckon with a significant worsening of the individual symptoms. Breathing through the nose will be immensely restricted The entire healing process can turn out to be very lengthy and difficult without appropriate treatment. However, if you take countermeasures at the first sign of a stuffy nose, you can achieve a quick and effective improvement with the right medication.

If you use a nasal spray, you should be careful. Under certain circumstances, a medical nasal spray can dry out the nasal mucous membranes immensely, so that the skin becomes very irritated. Thus, such a spray can delay full recovery in some cases. Alternatively, a purely herbal nasal spray can be used in this context. Especially nasal sprays that are mixed with sea salt also ensure a speedy improvement. A stuffy nose should therefore clear up within three to four days.


As a preventive measure against a stuffy nose caused by a cold, you can train the immune system by hardening it. You should always keep your nose warm and moist, because then it can fight off cold viruses more easily. Impeded nasal breathing due to other circumstances can hardly be prevented – except by not delaying a cold.

Acute sinusitis is painful and can be prevented in advance. However, if the blocked nose is due to a chronic sinus infection, the obstructed nasal breathing must be treated by a doctor.

You can do that yourself

A stuffy nose is usually harmless and should go away on its own after a few days. If the symptoms persist for a longer period of time, a doctor should be consulted. In addition, the nasal cavity can be freed from mucus and bacterial pathogens with some home remedies.

First of all, it is advisable to drink enough and to humidify the room air, because the mucous membranes need moisture to transport deposits and pathogens away. Nasal rinses and nasal sprays are an easy way to flush out the nasal cavity without over-irritating the sensitive mucous membranes. Alternatively, the nose can also be cleaned with essential oils or medicinal herbs from nature. Corresponding preparations with eucalyptus or lavender can be inhaledor applied to the chest in the form of an ointment or lotion. A remedy from the kitchen is a raw onion, whose juice can also be easily inhaled. Other home remedies for a stuffy nose are horseradish pads, manuka honey and a mustard foot bath.

Measures such as bed rest , an elevated sleeping position and the consumption of herbal teas and hot meals also apply . Chronic constipation can sometimes be relieved with acupuncture or acupressure .

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.