7 reasons why you wake up congested


Nasal congestion

If the first thing you do in the morning is reach for your box of tissues to blow your nose, or if you're constantly sniffling, listen up.

One of the main causes of waking up with a blocked nose is rhinitis, which is actually an inflammation of the tissues that line the inside of the nose.

Inflammation can be caused by an allergy, known as allergic rhinitis, or by non-allergic rhinitis.

Here we explain how to treat the problem, as well as other reasons why you may wake up with a blocked nose.

How do you manage hay fever when you're out and about more often than usual?

1. Allergies

The most common cause is probably an allergy. Allergic rhinitis is thought to affect around one in five people. "It's usually caused by something in the environment that triggers an allergic reaction". "The allergic response causes the lining of the nose to swell and produce more mucus."

Among the most common allergens that wreak havoc on our nostrils are pollen, mold and dust. "Some people only suffer from allergic rhinitis at certain times of the year, for example if they're allergic to certain pollens." "Or it can be present all year round - if, for example, your allergy is to dust or dust mites."

If you're often very congested first thing in the morning, but the problem resolves during the day, it may mean that you've been exposed to a particular allergen overnight - for example, dust, dust mites or pet hair. In this case, the use of dust-mite cover and 100% organic bamboo sheets will be very beneficial. Or, if you suffer from hay fever, you may notice that it's worse in the morning when pollen counts are high. In spring, during periods of high pollen counts, close the windows and use an air purifier with a minimum CADR of 100, depending on the room.

By asking yourself at what time of day you have this problem - and whether it's seasonal - you can determine what you're allergic to. Failing that, you can take an allergy test. It's a good idea to find out what the allergen is so you can avoid it, even if this is easier said than done. Most people don't know what the allergen is, or simply can't avoid it.

In addition, you can take over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines, or regularly rinse your nose with saline water. The use of a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter filter is also recommended, because while you're cleaning, you're also purifying your air, ensuring a cleaner environment.

2. The common cold

You've probably had fewer colds in the last year, because you've been exposed to fewer germs by spending more time at home. But that doesn't mean there's no risk of catching one. If you wake up congested for a short period of time (one or two weeks), it could be due to a cold attacking the nasal mucosa.

Cold symptoms, which appear gradually, include a blocked or runny nose (obviously), sore throat, headache, muscle aches, coughing, sneezing, high temperature, pressure in the ears and face, and loss of taste and smell.

"Letting the cold run its course is often the best treatment". You need to rest, get enough sleep, drink plenty of fluids and take painkillers if you feel any pain.

3. Your environment

Very cold or very hot weather, humidity or a very smoky environment can all wake you up with a blocked nose. Avoiding these circumstances will put an end to nasal congestion.

If you can't avoid them - we understand, you can't control everything - there are things you can do to alleviate the problem. If it's really cold, for example, put a scarf over your nose to warm the air around your face, or go to bed with the heater on low.

4. Pregnancy

Yes, it's true. Pregnancy brings with it a whole host of bodily changes, including hormone-induced inflammation of the nasal mucosa.

Unfortunately, there's not much you can do about it. "The blocked nose will resolve when you're no longer pregnant, but in the meantime, it may help to lift your head out of bed a little."

"If you're still having difficulties, it's a good idea to talk to a healthcare professional and see what treatments are suitable for pregnancy."

5. Overuse of nasal sprays

According to Paul Spraggs, ENT surgeon at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, more and more patients are presenting to hospital with self-induced rhinitis caused by overuse of nasal sprays such as Sudafed or Vicks Sinex.

"These are drugs you buy over the counter for short-term use for colds, but people tend to get addicted to them," he said. "This causes a type of rhinitis that we often see in secondary care and is very difficult to treat."

If you've been using nasal decongestant sprays a lot, they could - ironically - be the cause of your stuffy nose. If you think this is the case, talk to your doctor.

6. Polyps

Nasal polyps are painless, fleshy swellings that develop inside your nose. Although not usually serious, they can continue to grow and block your nose if left untreated, says the NHS.

Symptoms are similar to those of an ordinary cold - stuffy nose, runny nose, constant need to swallow, decreased sense of smell or taste, nosebleeds and snoring - but while colds tend to disappear after a week or so, polyp symptoms won't go away until the problem is treated.

If you think you have polyps, consult your GP, who should be able to offer you a steroid nasal spray to reduce the growths. If the situation does not improve after about 10 weeks, he or she may suggest surgery to remove the growths.

7. Sinusitis

Inflammation of the sinuses can lead to a runny nose in the morning. This problem can be acute (short-lived, one or two weeks, often due to infection) or chronic (long-lasting).

Sinusitis is common after a cold or flu. Its symptoms include pain, swelling and tenderness around the cheeks, eyes or forehead; blocked nose; reduced sense of smell; green or yellow mucus from the nose; sinus headaches; high temperature; toothache and bad breath.

"While acute sinusitis is often short-lived and usually gets better on its own, polyps and chronic sinusitis need to be diagnosed by a doctor and may require specific treatment."

But if your blocked nose has been going on for some time and isn't improving, or if you have other symptoms such as a fever that won't go down or general malaise, it's wise to talk to your doctor.

Wishing you the best of health!

The Protech Allergies team

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