Nasal congestion or "stuffy nose" occurs when nasal and adjacent tissues and blood vessels become swollen with excess fluid, causing a "stuffy" feeling. Nasal congestion may or may not be accompanied by a nasal discharge or "runny nose."
Nasal congestion usually is just an annoyance for older children and adults. But nasal congestion can be serious in infants, who might have a hard time nursing or breathing as a result.
A stuffy or runny nose is usually just an annoyance. But it can be a sign of a more serious problem, and it may be serious in infants.
Call your doctor if:
- Your symptoms last more than 10 days.
- You have a high fever, particularly if it lasts more than three days.
- Your nasal discharge is green and is accompanied by sinus pain or fever. This may be a sign of a bacterial infection.
- You have asthma or emphysema, or you're taking immune-suppressing medications.
- You have blood in your nasal discharge or a persistent clear discharge after a head injury.
Call your child's doctor if:
- Your child is younger than 2 months and has a fever.
- Your baby's runny nose or congestion causes trouble nursing or makes breathing difficult.
Until you see your doctor, try these simple steps to relieve symptoms:
- Sniffing and swallowing or gently blowing your nose.
- If the runny nose is a persistent, watery discharge, particularly if accompanied by sneezing and itchy or watery eyes, your symptoms may be allergy-related, and an over-the-counter antihistamine may help. Be sure to follow the label instructions exactly.
- For babies and small children, use a soft, rubber-bulb syringe to gently remove any secretions.
Try these measures to relieve postnasal drip — when excess mucus accumulates in the back of your throat:
- Avoid common irritants such as cigarette smoke and sudden temperature changes.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Use a humidifier.
- Try nasal saline sprays or rinses.
Mar. 27, 2013
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