A stuffy nose is a symptom which most of us have experienced.
The duration of a stuffy nose or nasal obstruction can be a clue as to the diagnosis or etiology. If the stuffy nose is present for 3 to 5 days it may be part of a common viral upper respiratory infection. This infection or common cold itself is usually self-limiting and should resolve without much intervention. Over-the-counter medications or nasal decongestants may be helpful if used for a short time.
Nasal obstruction, or stuffy nose, can present with bacterial infections or sinusitis. See the sinusitis portion of our website for further details. This obstruction is usually bilateral and often requires an antibiotic along with some local nasal sprays and occasionally steroids for treatment.
Nasal obstruction which is bilateral and persists for several months may be related to allergic rhinitis or “hay fever.”
Antihistamines taken orally or intranasally along with intranasal steroids sprays may be helpful. Occasionally allergy testing will be warranted to further
identify the source. Dust mite, molds, pet dander, trees, and ragweed allergies are common culprits leading to stuffy nose or nasal obstruction.
Nasal obstruction or stuffy nose may also be related to nasal polyps. These are most commonly seen bilaterally, or both sides of the nose. They are often benign and related to chronic inflammation. If the polyps cause nasal obstruction, they may be treated with intranasal steroid sprays along with oral steroids. Imaging studies of the CT scan of the sinuses are often ordered. If they do not respond to medical treatment surgery may also be an option.
Office evaluation of nasal obstruction may involve a nasal examination with nasal endoscopy. During this office procedure the nose is numbed, or
anesthetized, and a telescope camera is used to visualize the nasal passages in further detail.
If you’re having persistent nasal obstruction or stuffy nose please call her office for further evaluation