Blocked Nose

A blocked nose affects 10 - 20 per cent of the population. The symptoms of a blocked nose often start in late childhood and tend to mostly affect those aged between 10 and 25 years old. Allergy avoidance is the key to helping prevent blocked nose. There are also a variety of drugs that can help treat a blocked nose, such as antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays.

FAQ about Allergies:

The mucous membranes lining the inside of the nose can easily become swollen by increased blood flow to the nasal area and increased mucous secretions. This leads to nasal congestion or a blocked nose, which is a hallmark symptom of rhinitis.

Non-allergic rhinitis is diagnosed whenever there is no obvious allergic trigger for a blocked nose. Vasomotor rhinitis occurs whenever there are swollen blood vessels in the nose. Rhinitis may also arise from a viral infection such as a cold or flu.

The following allergens often cause a blocked nose:

  • Pollen (tree, grass and weed)
  • House dust mite
  • Pet Dander
  • Mould
  • Occupational allergens such as wood dust, isocyanates
  • Air pollution and other irritants
  • Cigarette smoke

A blocked nose caused by allergy often occurs with other nasal symptoms such as:

  • Runny nose
  • Itchy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Loss of smell
  • Sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses)

The blocked nose may also affect the eyes. Symptoms of sore eyes may be:

  • Itchy
  • Red
  • Puffy

Other symptoms that may also accompany allergic blocked nose could also entail:

Allergen avoidance should certainly be a priority if a blocked nose and accompanying symptoms are moderate, severe, or frequent. Key allergens to avoid are:

Pollen: As an outdoor allergen, pollen is perhaps less easy to control than an indoor allergen. These simple measures may avoid your exposure to pollens:

  • Keep an eye on pollen count and plan outdoor activities accordingly
  •  Keeping car and home windows closed during days of high pollen count 
  • Changing out of outdoor clothes and showering/washing hair to remove pollen when coming in from outdoors

House dust mite: It is the droppings and corpses of the house dust mite which contains the allergen causing rhinitis and blocked nose symptom. There are several ways in which the house dust mite can be reduced indoors:

  • Wash bedding regularly, with allergy friendly laundry detergent to kill house dust mite and remove droppings 
  • Vacuum carpets regularly, using a leakage-free allergy vacuum cleaner to trap the mites 
  • Get rid of clutter, which attracts dust and therefore mites, and damp dust regularly to trap and remove dust

Mould: Mould spores are readily inhaled and can cause a blocked nose. Reduce mould by:

  • Removing visible patches of mould in damp places in your home
  • Open the windows after a bath or shower, replace shower curtains regularly
  • Open the windows after cooking to stop condensation
  • Use allergy friendly cleaning product such as AllerMold mould spray

Pet dander: If you do have an animal in the house, try to:

  • Confine them to only one room, ideally one with minimal soft furnishings
  • Do not let animals in the bedrooms
  • Try to avoid letting pets on furniture
  • Use allergy friendly pet cleaning products

A HEPA air purifier can effectively remove airborne particulate allergens, like house dust mite remains, mould spores, pet dander and pollen grains. Using the appropriate air purifier could make a significant contribution to reducing the number of allergens that you are exposed to and that cause the symptoms of a blocked nose.

To control symptoms of a blocked nose, it is recommended to start limiting the number of allergens that you are exposed to in your home or place of work on a day-to-day basis. An additional step can be to take medication. Here are the most common ones:

  • 'First generation’ antihistamines like Chlorpheniramine: These cause drowsiness, which is why people worry about taking them before exams or meetings, or before driving
  • 'Second generation’ antihistamines, like Loratadine or Terfenadine: are non-sedating and are usually a better option
  • Steroids such as Beclometasone and Budesonide: These are given as a nasal spray and reduce inflammation but are also effective in reducing blocked nose
  • Decongestant drugs such as Phenylephrine and Xylometazoline: These reduce blocked nose by constricting nasal blood vessels. They can make the problem worse in the long run by producing 'rebound' nasal congestion
  • Immunotherapy: Tiny amounts of pollen, house dust mite or animal dander allergen are injected over a period of time to 're-train' the immune system not to respond.

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