One of the most annoying symptoms we all suffer at some point is nasal congestion. Cold, flu, allergies, and sinusitis are the more common causes of nasal obstruction.
What causes nasal congestion?
First, it should be known that the nose is covered by a mucosa formed by cells that produce mucus, and it has good vascularisation, with many arterioles, venous vessels, and capillaries called sinusoids.
The functional status of the nose depends on the amount of blood contained in the sinusoids: when they are filled, the mucosa thickens causing congestion; if they empty, the congestion disappears.
The nasal mucosa changes its thickness according to various factors such as cold, heat or physical exercise. In most cases, nasal obstruction is due to the inflammation of the nasal mucosa, mostly caused by certain viruses, frequently a cold.
What can nasal congestion cause?
Nasal congestion usually worsens at night, hinders sleep, causes snoring and, in extreme cases, leads to obstructive sleep apnoea, that is, episodes of breathlessness during sleep.
One of the most common complications of the cold and, therefore, of nasal congestion, is sinusitis, which consists of inflammation of the mucosa of the sinuses. Since inflammation of the sinus cavities is almost always accompanied by inflammation of the nasal cavities, this disease is now called rhinosinusitis.
In addition to nasal congestion, the other characteristic symptoms of sinusitis are runny nose (which can be anterior or posterior, i.e. mucus in the throat), facial pain or pressure, and reduction or loss of the sense of smell. These symptoms are caused by the accumulation of mucus in the nose and sinuses and consequently, relief will be achieved by eliminating that mucus.