We have all experienced nasal congestion and stuffiness of the nose at one time or another. Most often these symptoms are benign and self-limited. The most frequent causes are nasal allergic conditions and viral infections. Nasal allergic conditions are usually manifested by sneezing, eye watering and/or tearing as well as nasal itching, nasal airway obstruction and nasal and postnasal discharge. Secretions may also be bloody. Nasal and/or sinus infections are most often viral. These are manifested by malaise, frequently fever, joint and muscle pain as well as headaches, bloody or colored discharge and facial pain or fullness. Viral symptoms typically last 5 to10 days and resolve without treatment. Symptoms lasting longer than this are most often due to pathogenic bacteria. These infections resolve without treatment approximately one half of the time.
However the unresolved acute infections can go on to become chronic sinusitis. Persistent nasal obstruction and/or bleeding may indicate structural deformities and/or more serious health problems that most often require surgery. Loss of the sense of smell and taste may occur as a consequence of nasal inflammatory disorders such as allergy and infection. It may also be due to mechanical obstruction from a deviated nasal septum, hypertrophic (enlarged) turbinates, benign tumors such as nasal polyps or nasal/sinus malignancy.
Nose bleeding may be due to nasal allergies, nasal and sinus infection, bleeding disorders, the use of blood thinning agents such as coumadin, aspirin and ibuprofen, uncontrolled hypertension and rarely tumors of the nose and sinuses. Nose bleeding is also commonly triggered by low humidity and nasal dryness. Yet another common cause in children as well as adults with nasal irritation is nose picking. Nose bleeds can frequently be prevented by not picking or instrumenting the nose, humidifying inspired air and the use of nasal saline spray. Persistent nose bleeds and frequently recurring nose bleeds may indicate a serious underlying medical disorder and need to be brought to the attention of a physician.
Memorial Village ENT suggests the following information sources:
Prevent Chronic Sinusitis by resolving acute infections.
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