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Nasal congestion is a very common problem that affects a large number of people around the world. There can be several reasons why it can occur. Here are the most common ones:

  • Sinusitis- acute or chronic
  • Allergic reaction
  • Enlarged adenoids
  • Flu
  • Common cold
  • Presence of a foreign body
  • Bacterial infection
  • Drug use
  • Stress

The first thing that a doctor will look and test for when a patient complains of having a blocked nose is sinusitis. It is the most common and most likely cause for a chronically blocked airway. The word sinusitis refers to inflammation of the sinus lining and the demarcation between acute or chronic is based mostly on time.

Sinusitis which lasts for a few days to a few weeks is called acute sinusitis, while that lasting for longer than 12 weeks is called chronic sinusitis.

It is uncommon for people to have more than a couple of cases of acute sinusitis in their lives and the prevalence of chronic sinusitis is much higher.

Some of the risk factors that lead to the development of chronic sinusitis include:

  • Anatomic abnormality (like poor drainage from the sinuses)
  • Viral Infection
  • Spread of a dental infection to the sinuses (commonly from the pre-molars and molars of the upper jaw)
  • Presence of a nasal polyp
  • Injury to the face
  • Presence of foreign body in the sinus
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Tumors

Symptoms Of Chronic Sinusitis

People suffering from chronic sinusitis complain of pain, swelling and discomfort around the cheeks, forehead or the eyes. They also have a frequent discharge of thick mucous from the nose and down the back of their throat. This can cause a difficulty while sleeping.

Breathing from the nose is difficult and the condition may even affect the sense of smell.

The pain from sinusitis can be referred to the ears, teeth and cause bad breath, fatigue, nausea and a constantly recurring cough.

Diagnosis

Chronic sinusitis can easily be diagnosed through a clinical examination and a thorough medical history. In some cases, the doctor may ask for some x-rays, a nasal culture or an exploratory endoscopy. A test for allergies may also be conducted if that is believed to be the primary cause of inflammation.

Treatment

The primary goals of treatment are to keep the nasal passage free of blockage, reduce any sinus inflammation present and eliminate any predisposing factors that may be responsible for the flare-ups.

The treatment regimens followed may include one or more of the following:

  • Use of nasal steroids to reduce the amount of inflammation. These are available as sprays or drops.
  • Saline irrigation of the nasal passage to establish drainage.
  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-allergy medication
  • Surgery to remove any polyps or to increase the opening of the sinus so that better drainage of the mucus can take place. Polyps, though, are notorious for recurrence and so surgery may need to be performed more than once in some cases.

Patients are also encouraged to lose weight and to avoid smoking or other activities that can worsen their sinus infections.

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