At one time, all you had to worry about when waking up with a stuffy nose was the common cold or allergies. But now in the age of COVID-19, feeling even the slightest bit off can be a red flag. While it’s important to get a COVID test if you experience telltale signs like dry cough, shortness of breath, fever or loss of taste/smell, you should know that a stuffy nose alone isn’t too worrisome. To further help put you at ease, we’ve outlined some of the much more likely causes of this symptom.
But first, let’s review the types of nasal congestion.
Rhinitis describes inflammation of the nasal passages. This type of inflammation may be caused by allergies, called allergic rhinitis, or some other type of environmental irritant, known as nonallergic rhinitis.
Inflammation of the nasal passages may cause:
- Enlarged blood vessels in the nose
- Swollen tissues
- Increase in mucus production
- Blocked airflow through the nose
Sinusitis refers to swelling and inflammation of the sinuses, which can be caused by a viral infection like the cold or flu, or by an infestation of bacteria. In addition to a stuffy nose, someone with sinusitis may experience:
- Pain or tenderness around the cheeks, eyes and forehead
- Reduced sense of smell
- Mucus drainage
- Bad breath
Common Causes of Congestion
There are many conditions that list a stuffy nose/congestion as a symptom. Some of the most common causes are:
- Common triggers, known as allergens, include dust mites, pollen, animal dander and mold spores. It’s easy to encounter any of these at Goodyear Community Park.
- Environmental irritants. Different from an allergic reaction, certain environmental irritants like tobacco smoke and pollution can cause a stuffy nose.
- Nasal polyps. These are tissue growths within the nasal cavity that disrupt the ability of the cilia – your nose hairs – to clear mucus and antigens.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This condition causes stomach contents to back up through the throat and nasal passages, increasing symptoms of sinusitis.
- Certain medications are linked to stuffy nose, including aspirin, psychotropic drugs, immunosuppressive drugs, medicated nasal sprays and hormonal agents.
For more information about the causes of a stuffy nose or to schedule an appointment for an evaluation, call the experts at Arizona Desert ENT Specialists today.