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.
Health concern on your mind? Visit the Symptom Checker.
Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.
Causes of Nasal Congestion
In This ArticleChronic Rhinitis and Post-Nasal Drip Article
- Chronic rhinitis and post-nasal drip facts
- What is the purpose of the nose?
- What are rhinitis and post-nasal drip?
- What causes rhinitis?
- Is rhinitis always related to allergies?
- What conditions cause an abnormal production of nasal secretions?
- What conditions cause an impaired clearance of nasal secretions?
- How can chronic rhinitis and post-nasal drip be treated?
- What medications can be used to treat rhinitis and post-nasal drip?
- What can be used to treat non-allergic rhinitis?
- Does salt water have any role in the treatment of rhinitis and post-nasal drip?
- What are other options for the treatment of rhinitis and post-nasal drip?
In This ArticleCluster Headaches Article
- What are cluster headaches?
- Who gets cluster headaches?
- What are the symptoms and signs of cluster headaches?
- What causes cluster headaches?
- What triggers cluster headaches?
- How are cluster headaches diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for cluster headaches?
- Can cluster headaches be prevented?
- What is the prognosis for cluster headaches?
In This ArticleCommon Cold Article
- Common cold facts
- What is the common cold, and what causes it?
- How is the common cold transmitted?
- What are risk factors for acquiring the common cold?
- What are the symptoms and signs of the common cold in adults, children, and infants? What is the incubation period of the common cold?
- Does it have anything to do with exposure to cold weather?
- What is the difference between the common cold and influenza (the flu)?
- How do physicians diagnose the common cold?
- What is the treatment for the common cold? Are there any home remedies for the common cold?
- Are antibiotics a suitable treatment for the common cold?
- When should a health-care professional be consulted?
- What is the prognosis for the common cold? What is the duration of the common cold?
- What are complications of the common cold?
- Is it possible to prevent the common cold?
In This ArticleCystic Fibrosis Article
- Cystic fibrosis facts*
- What is cystic fibrosis?
- What are other names for cystic fibrosis?
- What causes cystic fibrosis?
- Is cystic fibrosis inherited?
- Who is at risk for cystic fibrosis?
- What are the signs and symptoms of cystic fibrosis?
- How is cystic fibrosis diagnosed?
- How is cystic fibrosis treated?
- Living with cystic fibrosis
- What is the outlook for cystic fibrosis?
In This ArticleDeviated Septum Article
- Deviated septum facts
- What is the definition of deviated septum?
- What are the causes of deviated septum?
- What are the symptoms of deviated septum?
- How is deviated septum diagnosed?
- How is deviated septum treated?
- When should I see a doctor about a deviated septum?
- Can deviated septum be prevented?
In This ArticleDrug Abuse Article
- Drug abuse and addiction facts
- What is drug abuse?
- What is drug addiction?
- What types of drugs are commonly abused?
- What are the physical and psychological effects of drug abuse and addiction?
- What are causes and risk factors for drug abuse and addiction?
- What are symptoms and signs of drug abuse and addiction?
- What happens to your brain when you take drugs?
- How is drug addiction diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for drug addiction?
- What are complications of drug addiction?
- What is the prognosis of drug addiction?
- Can drug abuse and addiction be prevented?
- Where can people get help for drug abuse or addiction?
In This ArticleFlu (Influenza) Article
- Flu (influenza, conventional, H1N1, H3N2, and bird flu [H5N1]) facts
- What is flu (influenza)?
- What are the causes of the flu (influenza)?
- What are flu (influenza) symptoms in adults and in children?
- How is the flu (influenza) diagnosed?
- What is the key to flu (influenza) prevention?
- Are there any flu shot or nasal spray vaccine side effects in adults or in children?
- Why should the flu (influenza) vaccine be taken every year?
- What are some flu treatments an individual can do at home?
- When should a person go to the emergency department for the flu?
- Who should receive the flu vaccine, and who has the highest risk factors? When should someone get the flu shot?
- What is the prognosis (outlook) and complications for patients who get the flu?
- What is the bird (avian) flu?
- Do antiviral agents protect people from the flu?
- Is it safe to get a flu shot that contains thimerosal?
- Where can I find additional information about the flu?
In This ArticleGerman Measles (Rubella) Article
- What is rubella (German measles)?
- What are rubella symptoms and signs?
- What are the complications of rubella?
- How is rubella spread from person to person?
- Can rubella be prevented with a vaccine?
- Does my child need the rubella vaccine (MMR)?
- As an adult, do I need the rubella vaccine (MMR)?
In This ArticleHay Fever Article
- Hay fever facts
- What is hay fever? What are the symptoms and signs?
- Why does an allergic reaction occur?
- What causes allergic rhinitis?
- When and where does allergic rhinitis occur?
- How is allergic rhinitis diagnosed, and how are allergies identified?
- How are allergies treated?
In This ArticleMeasles Article
- Measles facts
- What is measles? What does measles look like?
- What is rubeola? What is rubella? What are other names for measles?
- What is the history of measles?
- What causes measles? How is measles spread?
- How does one become immune to measles?
- Who is at risk for getting measles?
- Is measles deadly?
- What are measles symptoms and signs?
- What is the danger of getting measles while pregnant?
- What is the incubation period for measles?
- What complications are seen with measles?
- What is atypical measles?
- What is modified measles?
- How is the diagnosis of measles made?
- What should someone do if he or she has been exposed to measles?
- If it is not measles, what else could it be?
- Is there any treatment for measles after symptoms and signs develop?
- What is the prognosis for measles?
- Is it possible to prevent measles with a vaccine? How effective is the measles vaccine?
- Why should people get vaccinated against measles?
- Is there any truth to the fear of getting autism from the MMR or MMRV?
- Who should not receive measles vaccinations?
- Do people need to be revaccinated against measles if they are traveling to Europe?
- What adverse reactions or side effects can occur with the measles vaccination?
- If a child has an egg allergy, can they still receive the measles vaccine?
- Who should be revaccinated against measles?
- What is herd immunity? Why should people care if others choose not to be vaccinated?
- Can the measles virus be used to cure cancer?
- Where can I find more information about measles?
In This ArticleRespiratory Syncytial Virus Article
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection facts
- What is the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)?
- When does RSV infection occur, and who gets it?
- Who is at risk for severe disease?
- Is RSV infection contagious, and how is RSV infection transmitted?
- What are the symptoms of RSV infection?
- How is RSV infection diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for an RSV infection?
- How can RSV infection be prevented?
- Is there an RSV vaccine?
- What is the prognosis of an RSV infection?
In This ArticleSleep Apnea Article
- Sleep apnea facts
- What is sleep apnea?
- What are the types of sleep apnea?
- What is central sleep apnea and what causes it?
- What is obstructive sleep apnea and what causes it?
- How common is obstructive sleep apnea?
- What are obstructive sleep apnea symptoms?
- What are some of the complications of sleep apnea?
- How is obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed and evaluated?
- What are the nonsurgical treatments for obstructive sleep apnea?
- What are the surgical treatments for obstructive sleep apnea?
- Why is it important to treat obstructive sleep apnea?
In This ArticleSmoking (How to Quit Smoking) Article
- Smoking and quitting smoking facts
- What problems are caused by smoking?
- What are the symptoms and signs of cigarette addiction?
- What are the steps in quitting?
- Getting ready to quit smoking
- On the day you quit smoking
- Staying quit
- What methods can help a person quit smoking?
- Nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking
- Nicotine patches
- Nicorette gum
- Nicotine lozenges
- What prescription products are available for smoking cessation?
- How can nicotine-containing products be used safely?
- What are e-cigarettes?
- Is an e-cigarette harmful?
- Is secondhand smoke from e-cigarettes harmful?
- What is in the future for smoking?
In This ArticleSwine Flu Article
- Swine flu (H1N1 and H3N2v influenza virus) facts
- What is the swine flu?
- What causes swine flu?
- Why is swine flu now infecting humans?
- What are the symptoms of swine flu?
- How is swine flu diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for swine flu?
- What is the history of swine flu in humans?
- What are the risk factors for swine flu?
- Can swine flu be prevented with a vaccine?
- Can swine flu be prevented if the swine flu vaccine (or other flu strain vaccines) is not readily available?
- Was swine flu (H1N1) a cause of an epidemic or pandemic in the 2009-2010 flu season?
- What is the prognosis (outlook) and complications for patients who get swine flu?
- What is the latest news about swine flu?
- Where can I find more information about swine flu (H1N1 and H3N2v)?
In This ArticleWhooping Cough (Pertussis) Article
- Whooping cough (pertussis) facts
- What is whooping cough? What is the history of whooping cough?
- What causes whooping cough?
- What are risk factors for whooping cough?
- Can whooping cough be prevented with a vaccine?
- What are whooping cough symptoms, signs, and stages?
- How is whooping cough transmitted?
- Can adults get whooping cough?
- How is whooping cough diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for whooping cough?
- What is the prognosis for whooping cough?
- What are possible complications of whooping cough?
- Where can people find more information about whooping cough (pertussis)?
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, Mucinex Allergy
- loratadine and pseudoephedrine (Alavert Allergy & Sinus, Claritin-D, Claritin-D 24 hour)
- loratadine, Claritin, Claritin RediTabs, Alavert, others
- pseudoephedrine - oral, Afrinol, Sudafed
Symptoms & Signs A-Z List
Find out what women really need.