Symptom Checker: Symptoms & Signs Index
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Nasal congestion, or "stuffy nose," is a term that refers to the obstruction to the flow of air in and out of the nose. In contrast, the term "runny nose" refers to a discharge (fluid) coming from the nasal passages. Nasal congestion most commonly is the result of inflammation and swelling of the lining tissues of the nasal passages and sinuses. Less commonly, anatomical obstructions (for example, a deviated nasal septum, foreign bodies) may lead to nasal congestion. Prolonged use of certain nasal decongestant sprays or drops can lead to a worsening of nasal congestion. Rarely, tumors of the nasal passages or chronic medical conditions may be the cause of nasal congestion.
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Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.
Causes of Nasal Congestion
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Other Causes of Nasal Congestion
- Deviated Nasal Septum
- Enlarged Adenoid
- Environmental Irritants
- Foreign Body in the Nasal Passages
- Injury/Trauma to the Nose or Sinuses
- Medications (Overuse of Some Decongestant Sprays or Drops)
- Nasal Polyps
- Other Viral Infections
- Tumors of the Nasal Passages
- Vasomotor Rhinitis
Examples of Medications for Nasal Congestion
- cetirizine, Zyrtec, Zyrtec Allergy, Zyrtec Hives
- chlorpheniramine, pseudoephedrine, Deconamine (Discontinued)
- diphenhydramine, Benadryl
- fexofenadine and pseudoephedrine, Allegra-D
- fexofenadine, Allegra, Allegra Allergy, Allegra Hives, Children's Allegra
- loratadine and pseudoephedrine, Claritin-D
- loratadine, Claritin, Claritin RediTabs, Alavert, others
- pseudoephedrine - oral, Afrinol, Sudafed
- pseudoephedrine/cetirizine extended-release - oral, Zyrtec-D
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