Understanding Nasal Congestion

2012-06-01 | |
Last updated: 2012-06-01

One of the very annoying aspects of experiencing a head cold is having a stuffy nose. The discomfort of having difficulty breathing and the need to breathe through the mouth contribute significantly to the overall unpleasantness of the experience. However, we all know that having a cold is certainly not the only situation in which we can experience nasal congestion. Each of us can name many of the common reasons why we can feel stuffed up.

Despite congested breathing being an experience of which we are all familiar, our collective understanding of nasal congestion has been limited until fairly recently. However, research in the past few years has cleared the way toward a better understanding of what causes this irritating condition. For those who experience nasal congestion regularly, being aware of this information is important for reducing its effects on quality of life.

How Many People Are Affected By Nasal Congestion?

If we consider our own experiences with nasal congestion or the experiences of people we know, it is clear that having a stuffed up nose is very common. Our experience also tells us that allergies are the major reason for this nasal congestion. Research on the subject also supports this belief.

In a 2010 study published by Weill Cornell Medical College, the researchers reported that nasal congestion caused only by allergies was possibly experienced by as much as 40% of the population. Though this number may be high, the researchers stated that 20% of the population was certainly affected by allergies that can cause nasal congestion. Furthermore, the researchers suspected that the number of people suffering from stuffed up noses is underestimated.

The same study also reported that, in most cases, nasal congestion caused by allergies would become chronic. Of children diagnosed with allergies that cause nasal congestion, only 10 to 20% will be able to have their allergy symptoms resolved. Given that a congested nose is the most common symptom of allergies affecting the nasal passages, this means that a great number of people are living with chronic nasal congestion. Worse than this however, is that the number of people experiencing allergies involving the airways has increased by 10% in the last decade.

If we consider other causes of nasal congestion, we will find that nasal polyps are another reason why people can be forced to breath through the mouth. Though not as common as nasal congestion caused by allergies, the formation of these fleshy growths in the nose affects as much as 4% of the population. The cause of these growths is recognized as being the result of chronic allergies.

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Category: General Health, Medical Research, Symptom Information

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