Nasal conditions affect more than 30 million people in the United States every year. It can be difficult to decide how to diagnose or treat nasal congestion, a common symptom experienced with a variety of problems. It could come from an allergy. It could be the result of an irritant from our environment — perfume, tobacco smoke, dust, or pollen. Something could be obstructing the nasal passage.
There is a wide range of nasal conditions, risk factors, and treatments.
The common cold virus is the most prevalent cause of inflammation in the nose. Doctors alter their treatment approaches based on the nasal issue a patient has. Four of the most common types of nasal conditions are:
- Allergic. Allergens in the air like dust mites, mold, pollen, or pet dander can trigger rhinitis. When this happens, the mucous membrane swells and generates more mucus than normal because the immune system mistakes an allergen for a dangerous substance and responds in a way that causes inflammation.
- Infectious. The forehead, cheeks, and nose all have sinus cavities that are normally clear and full of air. When the body contracts an infection, these spaces can fill with fluid.
- Vasomotor/idiopathic. The symptoms are similar to those of allergic rhinitis, and may be triggered by irritants in the air or other exposures.
- Gustatory. The nose develops a watery discharge while eating. Heat is typically to blame — either the temperature of the food or its spiciness.
Some of the most common symptoms of different nasal conditions are:
- Thick mucus draining from the nose or down the throat.
- Nasal congestion that makes it hard to breathe through the nose.
- Facial swelling and/or pain that becomes worse with bending over, especially in the nose, eyes, forehead, and cheeks.
- Pressure in the ears.
- Changing sense of smell.
There are several risk factors that can lead to nasal conditions.
- Allergies. Conditions like hay fever and other allergic reactions can trigger nasal problems.
- Irritants. Cleaning products, humid air, and dust can irritate the nasal passageways.
- Smoking. Whether directly from smoking or indirectly from being around smokers.
- Immunodeficiency. Having a primary immunodeficiency is linked to sinusitis.
- Medications such as alpha-blockers used to treat prostate hypertrophy or erectile dysfunction. The side effect of some alpha-blockers is a runny or stuffy nose.
Prevention and Treatment
- Nasal steroids. Generally used in the form of a nasal spray, they work by reducing swelling and mucus in the nasal passages.
- Nasal antihistamines. Sprays that relieve congestion, sneezing, and runny nose.
- Leukotriene modifiers. Work to keep the airways to the lungs, the bronchial tubes, from becoming constricted.
- Anticholinergic nasal sprays. Alleviate the runny noses of people with allergic or nonallergic rhinitis. They work by decreasing the amount of secretion from the glands in the passages of the nose.
- Oral antihistamines. Work by mitigating the inflammatory response triggered by histamine. These are most commonly used for patients experiencing allergic reactions to pollen or other external allergens.
- Decongestants. Work by shrinking the nasal blood vessels and tissues that cause congestion.
- Nasal saline. Works by keeping the nose moist, which loosens and dissolves mucus and prevents the nasal passages from further inflammation.
Get Back to Enjoying Your Life
The allergy and immunology specialists at Florida Medical Clinic will evaluate your medical history and conduct various tests to determine what could be triggering your symptoms. Then, we’ll work with you to develop a management plan based on your diagnosis and treatment goals so you can get back to enjoying your life. For help with your nasal condition, click here.
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