How to Relieve Nasal Congestion

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Nasal congestion manifests itself in the form of a swelling in the nasal passages. Relieve nasal congestion with help from a health expert in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Cold-Weather Sickness Remedies
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Dr. David Hill, and today we are going to be talking about how to relieve nasal congestion. So, first of all, what is nasal congestion? Well, it's just swelling, what we call edema in the nose passages that make it difficult for air to pass. Now, the three most common reasons you'll get nasal congestion are number one, you got a virus, a cold. That's going to last anywhere between seven and fourteen days, and then get better probably no matter what you do. Number two, you might have allergies. Allergic nasal congestion tends to come with a bit more itching. It will last as long as you are exposed to the allergens. So, if it's your own dog it will last as long as you have the dog. If it's pollen it will last during the season when that pollen's around, you get the idea. The third reason to have nasal congestion is a bacterial infection of the sinuses or a bacterial sinusitis. That may require antibiotics to get better, although in adults it's not clear that antibiotics make a huge difference in the outcome of sinusitis. You'd want to talk to you doctor about that. Sinusitis may come in adults with some significant pain in the face or forehead. It may come with fever greater than three days in duration or cold symptoms that just don't go away after a week and a half to two weeks. Your question is right now how am I going to breathe? And there are some great answers. Probably the most effective intervention is saline washes. Now you can make your own normal saline solution. You need a half teaspoon of salt and one cup of water. You can warm it up to help the salt dissolve and then you can introduce that into the nose with a syringe or with a thing that looks like a genie's lantern. It's called a Neti pot. You just kind of tip it up into your nose to wash the sinuses out. That can give you tremendous relief. If you are talking about a baby who can't breathe through his or her nose. You can make the same stuff and then just use a little dropper or syringe to put two or three drops in each nostril and suck it back out with that bulb suction that you probably got at the hospital. Now you may be thinking about using medication to decongest your nose. The most effective medication are the nasal decongestant sprays. The most common brand is Afrin but there are other generic brands that work just as well. The key with the sprays yes they work, in fact they work really well but you don't want to use them for more then two or three days in a row. Because then it gets very hard to stop. The receptors inside your nose get used to having that spray there, they adapt and all of a sudden when you stop congestion comes right back. Now, the third thing you can do is over-the-counter decongestant such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine. Pseudoephedrine you know have to ask the pharmacist for, they keep it behind the counter. These can be reasonably productive, they can help. However, we do not recommend their use in children. Especially in children under the age of six. There are more risk of side effects in children and there's never really been a study that shows these medications, do what you want them to do for children, so in general, we don't recommend them for kids. Most importantly if your stuffy nose is not going away after a week and a half or two weeks, contact your doctor and find out if there's some reason for it that can be treated. Talking about relieving nasal congestion, I'm Dr. David Hill.


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