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Nasal Congestion: Treatment, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2023

What is the Nasal Congestion?

Nasal congestion occurs as the nasal passages get blocked due to the mucus lining of the passages getting swollen and inflamed. The condition becomes very annoying in children and adults as well. In infants nasal congestion causes difficulty in feeding and breathing distress. If left untreated, nasal congestion can get life threatening too. Nasal congestion causes impairment of speech and hearing also. The condition can also be associated with sleep apnea sometimes and causes snoring. Chronic sleep apnea has been observed to occur in children with nasal congestion due to inflamed adenoids, causing insufficient uptake of oxygen and hypoxia as a result. This can sometimes lead to right sided-heart failure also. Nasal congestion occurring due to common cold infection or allergy can cause headaches and slight facial pain also. The common causes of nasal congestion can be traced as influenza or common cold, allergies due to exposure to pollen, drug reaction, rhinitis medicamentosa due to excessive use of topical decongestants, sinus infection, nasal polyps, gastroesophageal reflux disease, empty nose syndrome or sometimes may even cause due to pregnancy or narrowing and collapsing of nasal valves. It is important that you get the right treatment at the right time to get rid of nasal congestion. The treatment depends on the actual cause of the congestion. There are nasal decongestants and several drugs available in the market to relieve the condition. It is also recommended to avoid going near pollens and dust as they cause allergy. Apart from nasal decongestant there are also topical decongestants which can be applied only for a specific period.

How is the Nasal Congestion treatment done?

Treatment for nasal congestion includes alpha-adrenergic agonists as they work by constricting the blood vessels. These drugs like phenylephrine and oxymetazoline are truly effective in relieving symptoms. Discomfort, headaches and pain in the facial muscles caused due to common cold and influenza can be relieved with drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen (paracetamol). Allergens like pollens and dust cause diseases like hay fever. Decongestants and antihistamines can be used to relieve the symptoms and discomfort due to nasal decongestion but they usually do not cure the condition completely. Antihistamines like cetirizine, clemastine, loratadine, diphenhydramine (Benadryl), brompheniramine, fexofenadine (Allegra) are used and are quite effective in controlling the symptoms caused due to allergens. It is recommended to use topical decongestants like tramazoline, naphazoline etc. only for first three days. There are nasal decongestants that act specifically like some nasal sprays containing oxymetazoline (Afrin, Duramist or Dristan), naphazoline (Privine) or oral decongestants in the form of pills like Sudafed, Sinex, Bronkaid etc. are quite effective. In infants, a stuffy nose can be cleared with the help of a nasal aspirator that removes the mucus from the nasal passages.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Any person suffering from blockage of the nasal passages due to influenza, common cold or allergies thereby causing inflammation of the mucus lining of the nasal passages are eligible for treatment irrespective of male and female of any age.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

If the congestion goes away on its own without causing much discomfort, then the person is not eligible for the treatment.


Are there any side effects?

Yes, there can be a few side effects due to taking an oral decongestant for more than a week and a nasal decongestant for more than three days because they have been reported to worsen the condition. Nasal sprays can cause ‘rebound’ or Rhinitis medicamentosa if taken for more than a few days. Over-the-counter medicines should not be given to children under 4 years age.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Apart from taking medicines, it is also important that you keep yourself warm, take steam to unblock the nasal passages, drink herbal tea and take warm water bath. Also keep away from pollens, dust or other allergens.

How long does it take to recover?

It usually takes a few days to recover completely from a nasal congestion.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The price of treating nasal congestion in India usually ranges from Rs. 30 to Rs. 500 irrespective of male and female of any age.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

No the results cannot be said to be permanent because if the person is attacked by influenza or allergies again, nasal congestion can recur. So, yes after the treatment the symptom goes away but can come back if faced with similar conditions again.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There are alternative treatments for nasal congestion. Instead of spending money on medicines you can also try some easy home remedies that are natural and effective. When you have a blocked nose, it is suggested to blow your nose and try keep the nasal passage clean, this activity can be made easier with the help of inhaling steam or with a humidifier, also drink lot of warm liquids like herbal tea, warm water, ginger ale, chicken stew and citrus fruit juices, gargle with warm saline water and most importantly stay warm and take rest.


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Written ByDr. Shivam Malhotra Sleep Medicine(Training),MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery,MD - General MedicineGeneral Physician
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