Nasal congestion, also known as stuffy nose, is a term that refers to the blockage of the flow of air in and out of the nose.
It happens when the vessels in the nose swell leading to the expansion of the nasal tissue.
A stuffy nose can be caused by anything which inflames or irritates the nasal tissues. For instance, infections (like – flu, colds, or sinusitis), allergies, and irritants (like – tobacco smoke and pollution) may all cause a stuffy nose.
Moreover, this condition may occur during pregnancy, typically during the end of the 1st trimester due to the increased blood supply and hormonal fluctuations.
Common symptoms of a stuffy nose include:
- a minor headache;
- a hoarse voice;
- watery eyes;
- nasal discharge;
- swollen nasal tissues;
- mucus buildup;
- sinus pain.
The symptoms can be managed with different types of treatments, including the following two medicines:
It is the brand name of oxymetazoline, a decongestant that shrinks blood vessels in the nasal passages, therefore, reducing congestion and swelling.
Due to its potent vasoconstricting characteristics, in addition to its use during a stuffy nose, oxymetazoline is used to treat eye redness and nose bleeds due to minor irritation.
This medicine is approved for use in children as young as six years old and adults.
For a stuffy nose, it is recommended to use 2-3 sprays per nostril every 12hr. Do not use it for more than 5 days.
Side Effects And Precautions Of Oxymetazoline
Common side effects may include:
- nose dryness;
- nose irritation;
- heart palpitations;
- rebound congestion, due to long-term use;
- difficulty staying or falling asleep;
- fast heart rate;
- high blood pressure;
If you have used MAO inhibitor (monoamine oxidase inhibitor), a type of antidepressant, within two weeks, do not use this medicine.
There are no conclusive clinical studies that show the effects of using this medication while breastfeeding, hence, stay on the safe side and avoid it.
It is the brand name of fluticasone propionate, a drug that has been shown to have numerous effects on multiple mediators (like – eicosanoids, histamine, cytokines, and leukotrienes) and cell types (such as – eosinophils, mast cells, macrophages, neutrophils, and lymphocytes) involved in inflammation.
It helps to prevent asthma attacks (it can feel as if there’s a cloud in your lungs or if someone is sitting on your chest). However, it will not stop an asthma attack that has already started.
This steroid medicine is also used to treat a runny nose or other symptoms caused by allergic rhinitis.
For children 4 to 11 years old and adults, the usual dose is 1 or 2 sprays (50 mcg/spray) in each nostril in the morning. Do not use it in a child younger than 4 years old. It may take 2 to 3 days (up to 14 days) for this nasal spray to reach its full effect.
Side Effects And Precautions Of Fluticasone Propionate
Common side effects may include:
- a cough;
- throat irritation;
- nasal burning;
- upper airway inflammation or infection.
To make sure that this medicine is safe for you, tell your healthcare professional if you have ever had:
- any illness or infection (like – tuberculosis);
- ulcers or sores inside your nose;
- glaucoma or cataracts;
- surgery on your nose;
- osteoporosis (a bone condition which usually affects women over 50);
- liver disease;
- herpes simplex virus.
Do not use this nasal steroid spray if you:
- have rhinitis sicca (a form of rhinitis in which the mucous membrane of the nose is abnormally dry);
- are allergic to oxymetazoline or any ingredients of this nasal spray;
- have narrow-angle glaucoma;
- are currently taking MAO inhibitors (like – tranylcypromine or phenelzine);
- currently use phenylephrine, epinephrine, pseudoephedrine;
- experience dizziness, trouble sleeping, weakness, lightheadedness, tremor, or abnormal heart rhythms.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
It is not known precisely whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby, hence, if you are pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider prior to use.
Moreover, because there are no adequate clinical studies for determining infant risk when using this nasal spray during breastfeeding, it is better to avoid it while breastfeeding a baby.
Do not operate or drive machinery until you know exactly how this drug affects you since it can cause dizziness.
Smoking tobacco can make your nasal congestion worse as well as it will reduce the effects of this nasal spray.
Inhaled corticosteroids can occasionally cause oral thrush, a fungal infection in the mouth. To reduce the chances of this condition, it is recommended to rinse your mouth with water after inhaling each dose.
Afrin vs Flonase – Which Is The Best Medicine To Relieve Nasal Congestion?
Flonase is a nasal spray that can be used continuously for long periods of time. On the other hand, Afrin it recommended for use only a short amount of time because long-term use increases the risk of side effects, including the worsening of nasal congestion.
6 Home Remedies For Stuffy Nose
#1 Steam Inhalation
It is a popular home remedy for instant relief from a stuffy nose. It works by lubricating the irritated respiratory tract and clearing the congestion. The simplest method to inhale steam is by taking in deep breaths while holding your head over a steaming pot of water.
#2 Saline Sprays
They are a combination of salt and sterile water and work by soothing nasal inflammation and thinning the mucus.
Note – if used regularly, saline sprays may help rinse out pathogenic bacteria or pollen which irritate airways.
#3 Apple Cider Vinegar
According to anecdotal evidence, stuffy noses can be cleared by drinking diluted ACV. For this, just add 1 teaspoon of ACV to a cup of warm filtered water and drink it.
#4 Peppermint Essential Oil
Nasal congestion can be treated by inhaling aromas of the mixture of peppermint essential oil and warm water for approximately 20 minutes.
This happens due to a compound found in peppermint essential oil, called menthol. Eucalyptus essential oil can also be an adequate home remedy for a stuffy nose.
Garlic will reduce inflammation, fight infection, and support the immune system.
Note – it works best when it is consumed raw.
Drinking plenty of water will thin out the mucus, which could help prevent blocked sinuses and relieve nasal congestion.
Images source – Shutterstock & Getty
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References https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/over-the-counter-decongestant-nasal-sprays-work https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15500197 https://waojournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1939-4551-6-5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4402865/