Nasal congestion can be caused by anything that irritates or inflames the nasal tissues. Infections — such as colds, flu or sinusitis — and allergies are frequent causes of nasal congestion and runny nose. Sometimes a congested and runny nose can be caused by irritants such as tobacco smoke and car exhaust. This condition is called nonallergic rhinitis or vasomotor rhinitis.

Less commonly, nasal congestion can be caused by a tumor.

Potential causes of nasal congestion include:

  1. Acute sinusitis (sinus infection)
  2. Alcohol
  3. Allergies
  4. Chronic sinusitis
  5. Churg-Strauss syndrome
  6. Common cold
  7. Decongestant nasal spray overuse
  8. Deviated septum
  9. Dry air
  10. Enlarged adenoids
  11. Food, especially spicy dishes
  12. Foreign body in the nose
  13. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's granulomatosis)
  14. Hormonal changes
  15. Influenza (flu)
  16. Medications, such as those used to treat high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, depression, seizures and other conditions
  17. Nasal polyps
  18. Nonallergic rhinitis (chronic congestion or sneezing not related to allergies)
  19. Occupational asthma
  20. Pregnancy
  21. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  22. Sleep apnea
  23. Stress
  24. Thyroid disorders
  25. Tobacco smoke

Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Feb. 16, 2019

See also

  1. Acute sinusitis
  2. Acute sinusitis: Do over-the-counter treatments help?
  3. Alcohol intolerance
  4. Allergies
  5. Allergy medications: Know your options
  6. Allergy-proof your home
  7. Aspergillosis
  8. Avoid rebound nasal congestion
  9. Broken nose
  10. Bronchiolitis
  11. Can chicken soup cure a cold?
  12. Can you use honey for allergies?
  13. Chicken soup: Can it treat a cold?
  14. Chronic cough
  15. Chronic daily headaches
  16. Chronic sinusitis
  17. Cluster headache
  18. Cold and flu viruses: How long can they live outside the body?
  19. Cold or allergy: Which is it?
  20. Cold remedies
  21. Cold symptoms: Does drinking milk increase phlegm?
  22. Common cold
  23. Common cold in babies
  24. Cystic fibrosis
  25. Does zinc work for colds?
  26. Drug addiction (substance use disorder)
  27. Dust mite allergy
  28. Echinacea: Is it effective for the common cold?
  29. Flu shots
  30. Flu: When to see a doctor?
  31. Fluzone High-Dose: What distinguishes it from other flu vaccines?
  32. Food allergies: Labels
  33. Food allergy
  34. Food allergy later in life
  35. Food allergy or intolerance?
  36. Group B strep disease
  37. Have a cold? Common sense rules
  38. Have a cold? Fight back with humidity
  39. Have a cold? Fight it with fluids
  40. Headaches 101: Know your type
  41. Headaches and hormones
  42. Headaches in children
  43. Headaches: Treatment depends on your diagnosis and symptoms
  44. Honey: An effective cough remedy?
  45. How well do you wash your hands?
  46. Humidifier care 101
  47. Humidifiers
  48. Influenza (flu)
  49. Is antibacterial soap a do or a don't?
  50. Infographic: Lung Transplant for Cystic Fibrosis
  51. Mayo Clinic Minute: The facts about three flu vaccine myths
  52. Mayo Clinic Minute: Why you need your flu shot now
  53. Medication overuse headaches
  54. Nasal Cleaning
  55. Nasal spray addiction: Is it real?
  56. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
  57. Neti pot: Can it clear your nose?
  58. Neti pot solution: Can I make my own?
  59. Nighttime headaches: Relief
  60. Nonallergic rhinitis
  61. Oil of oregano: Can it treat sinusitis?
  62. Pain Management
  63. Pet allergy
  64. Pet allergy: Are there hypoallergenic dog breeds?
  65. Plugged ears: What is the remedy?
  66. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  67. Rubella
  68. Shellfish allergy
  69. Sinus headaches
  70. Sinus infection and toothache: Any connection?
  71. Stress and headaches: Stop the cycle
  72. Stuffy nose? Try saline spray
  73. Vicks VapoRub: An effective nasal decongestant?
  74. Vitamin C: Can it prevent colds?
  75. Warm-mist versus cool-mist humidifier: Which is better for a cold?
  76. Wheat allergy
  77. Whooping cough
  78. Whooping cough
  79. Do zinc supplements shorten colds?