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Swollen Nasal Passages

The swelling of the nasal passages can bring a lot of discomfort and also lead to difficult breathing. This modification often occurs when a person is suffering from infections of the upper respiratory tract. In general, the discomfort and difficulty breathing come from the increased mucus production. The interior nasal mucosa is swollen to prevent pathogenic organisms from entering into the nose and farther down the airway tract or the sinuses. Before considering a specific treatment for swollen nasal passages, one must take identify the exact cause that has led to the problem in the first place.

The swollen nasal passages are often presented under the simple term of nasal congestion. What happens is that the mucosa swells, bringing a lot of blood into the region. The blood vessels are constricted and they cause even more congestion. This condition is not serious and it is often solved through medication or with the aid of home remedies. If the mucus produced changes its color into green or yellow, then you might be suffering from a bacterial infection. This means that the best treatment for your swollen nasal passages will consist of anti-inflammatory medication and antibiotics. The mucus produced can make the difference in the administered treatment.

What Causes Swollen Nasal Passages?

swollen nasal passagesThese are the possible causes of swollen nasal passages:


  • Inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose
  • Runny nose
  • Triggered by allergens/non-allergic
  • Potential allergens include:
    • Dust mites
    • Pollen from plants or trees
    • Fumes resulting from chemical substances
    • Certain foods


  • Inflammation of sinuses (cavities that are filled with air)
  • Protect against harmful pathogens (bacteria, viruses or allergens)
  • Apart from the swollen nasal passages, the patient will suffer from pain, sensation of pressure and difficult breathing
  • Increased quantities of mucus are going to be released, as the sinuses and nasal mucosa are inflamed.

Upper respiratory infection

  • This can appear when a harmful bacteria has breached the protective mucosa of the nose
  • The bacteria lead to swollen nasal passages, high fever and yellow or green colored mucus
  • The patient might also have difficulty breathing
  • Coughing is possible, as the body tries to eliminate the infected mucus.

Common cold

The common cold appears when the body is exposed to extreme temperatures, leading to swollen nasal passages among other modifications.


When a virus has breached the interior mucosa of the nose, the symptoms of flu appear. Apart from the swollen nasal passages, the patient will feel a state of general discomfort, joint pain and fever.

Treatment for Swollen nasal passages

These are the most common courses of treatment recommended for swollen nasal passages:

Anti-inflammatory medication

  • Helps with the inflammation, improving the breathing and reducing the pain/discomfort
  • Can be taken orally or applied topically, as spray

Anti-histaminic medication

  • This is recommended in cases of rhinitis triggered by allergic organisms
  • Depending on the severity of the allergic reaction and the presence of other modifications, the doctor might either recommend oral administration or topical sprays


  • Recommended in cases of swollen nasal passages caused by bacterial infections
  • The treatment should be taken for as long as it is prescribed, otherwise the bacteria will develop resistance and the next infection is only going to cause worse symptoms

Nasal decongestant sprays

  • Recommended only in cases of severe swollen nasal passages
  • Used for long periods of time, they can cause a person to become addicted to them
  • There are situations in which the nasal decongestant sprays actually lead to swollen nasal passages – if they are used for too long or in increased quantities.


Relief from swollen nasal passages can be obtained with the following home remedies:

Steam inhalation

  • Boil water and then put a towel over your head
  • Inhaling the steam will open up the airways and it will reduce the swelling in the nasal passages
  • You can add essential oils (eucalyptus, tea tree) or different herbs to the water for better results
  • The steam acts as a natural decongestant
  • Essential oils will help you to faster eliminate the bacteria.

Herbal tea

  • Choose herbal teas that have healing (decongestant) properties such as mint or thyme
  • The herbal teas will help you reduce the swelling and they will also keep your body hydrated.

Tea tree oil

  • Tea tree oil is recommended in case of swollen nasal passages as it has antibacterial properties
  • It is for the best that you add it to water and inhale the steam.

Eucalyptus oil

  • Decongestant properties
  • Works the best when added to steaming water and inhaled

Salt water

  • Mix salt with warm water
  • Use a dropper to add a few drops of the mixture into the nose
  • Acts as a natural decongestant and also as disinfectant, keeping bacteria and viruses away.


There are several things you can do in order to prevent the nasal passages from becoming swollen:

  • Avoid getting into contact with potential allergens
  • Keep your room clean and open the windows on a frequent basis, so as to avoid dust mites
  • Eliminate potential foods that cause allergies from your diet
  • Avoid going into crowded areas during the flu period
  • Get a flu shot to protect yourself against viral infections
  • Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your nose with your hands, as this is one of the most encountered method of delivering bacteria/viruses to the body.
  • Do not stand too close to someone who has the flu or a bacterial infection. Flu is highly contagious and it can be easily transmitted through touching, coughing or sneezing.
  • Drink a lot of liquids during the flu period. It will keep the body stronger, fighting against nasty viruses.
  • Use special sea water to keep the inside of your nose moisturized. A dry mucosa will welcome bacteria and viruses.
  • Keep a humidifier in your room. This will keep the air moist, especially when there is indoor heating causing the air to become dry.
Swollen Nasal Passages
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