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