What causes nasal congestion?
Nasal congestion is caused by viruses and bacteria when you have a cold or flu, or by allergens like dust and pollen. These intruders cause inflammation in the nasal passageways, which creates swelling that greatly reduces or even blocks the airflow through the nostrils.
In addition to inflammation, nasal congestion is also the result of dilation (enlargement) of the large blood vessels (veins) in the nose that shrink the volume of the nasal cavity and reduce airflow. Contrary to the common belief that excess mucus is the primary cause of a stuffy nose, it is in fact the swelling of the nasal lining that leads to nasal congestion.
What are the symptoms of nasal congestion?
If you have nasal congestion with your cold or flu, you will likely experience a stuffy or runny nose and pain in your forehead and under your eyes. You may also feel tired and have difficulty breathing through your nose.
How long does nasal congestion last?
If your nasal congestion is due to viruses or bacteria, it will likely last as long as your cold or flu (anywhere from five to 10 days). If your nasal congestion is the result of allergies, it may last longer. Taking a nasal decongestant can help control your symptoms.