Understanding Nasal Congestion

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

What Causes Nasal Congestion?

Airborne Particles Causing Nasal Congestion

Considering that allergies are the most significant contributor to nasal congestion, most of us will understand that poor air quality and naturally occuring particles in the air are the reason that we develop a stuffy nose. Some of the particles in the air that affect our nasal passages can include particulate automobile pollution, power plant air pollution, fungus and pollen. Within our homes, the airborne feces of dust mites are also a significant cause of the allergies that lead to nasal congestion.

Congestion Caused By Aggressive Immune Systems And Autoimmunity

However, the particles in the air we breathe are not the only reason that we experience that stuffy feeling. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University looked at a group of patients with the most severely congested nasal passages who were also the most likely to develop polyps. The scientists found that these patients had a specific gene that was more highly activated than in the normal population. Specifically, this gene is responsible for controlling the creation of an immune system chemical that breaks down the protective layers in fungus and insects.

Given that we do breathe particles from fungus and tiny insects, the research suggests that nasal congestion may result from a confused and overactive immune system. In the process of responding to these particles in the air we have breathed, the immune system may associate this immune chemical with being a foreign invader. As a result, our immune system creates the chemical and then falsely identifies it as something needing to be attacked causing chronic inflammation. This then leaves the nose less able to deal with the foreign particles that are actually in the air we are breathing now.

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Category: General Health, Medical Research, Symptom Information

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