Waking up with a stuffy nose is rarely cause for serious alarm, even in the age of COVID-19. While congestion is, indeed, a symptom of the novel coronavirus, you likely only need to be tested if you experience any of the telltale signs like dry cough, shortness of breath, fever or loss of taste/smell. If you don’t have any of these symptoms, your stuffy nose is most likely due to one of the conditions below.
Allergic rhinitis describes inflammation of the nasal passages caused by exposure to a triggering substance known as an allergen. Common allergens include dust mites, pollen, animal dander and certain foods – all of which may be found somewhere like James Island County Park. In addition to a stuffy nose, allergies may cause you to experience:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Tickle in the throat
Treatment for allergies includes short-term solutions like over-the-counter antihistamines or long-term solutions like immunotherapy.
You may be surprised to learn that exposure to tobacco smoke can also cause a stuffy nose. According to a 2013 study, smoking is associated with a high prevalence of chronic rhinitis in both men and women. And even if you don’t smoke, a 2017 study revealed that exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke can increase the chance of developing rhinitis in children.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition wherein the contents of the stomach flow back up through the throat and sometimes even the nasal passages. One 2015 study found that people with GERD are at increased risk of developing chronic sinusitis, inflammation of the sinus and nasal passages.
Nasal polyps are tissue growths that form within the nasal cavity. Polyps prevent the tiny hairs in the nose – called cilia – from clearing mucus and antigens. In addition to stuffy nose/congestion, other symptoms of nasal polyps include:
- Runny nose/nasal drainage
- Facial pain/pressure
- Decreased ability to smell
Many medications are linked to a stuffed-up nose, including:
- Aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs
- Psychotropic drugs
- Immunosuppressive drugs
- Medicated nasal sprays
- Hormonal agents
For more information about possible causes of a stuffy nose or to schedule an appointment with an expert, call ENT & Allergy Partners today.