Causes for congestion, other than allergies

Spring is upon us and with it the arrival of seasonal allergies!

Yes, soon there will be many people walking around with stuffed up noses and wishing they had bought stock in Kleenex.

If your allergies are arriving like a lion, be sure to be faithful about taking probioticsProbiotics can manufacture enzymes to help your body break down allergens before they have an opportunity to taunt your immune system, and they help to reduce the “over-reaction” your body produces with allergies.

But if you find yourself congested and you’re not prone to seasonal allergies, then something else might be brewing.

Here are some other things to consider:

Causes of nasal congestion other than seasonal allergies

Hormones
Hormonal changes (especially with pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause) can cause your nasal membranes to swell and make you congested.

Using a humidifier can help, as well as getting enough fluids and concentrating on alkalinizing foods—lots of fresh fruits and vegetables—and avoiding too much dairy (as it can be mucus-forming).

And if you’re in or near menopause, consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy as an alternative to synthetic hormones.

Your job
The workplace can present many factors that can trigger an irritation or allergic reaction including chemicals, cleaning agents, co-workers (just kidding!), paint, new carpets, solvents, artificial lighting and even electronics and computers.

Take note if anything on the job is bothering you and do what you can to avoid it (wearing a mask, rubber gloves, etc.) or see if you can switch your duties to avoid the irritant.

Your thyroid
A low-functioning thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause nasal congestion, as well as fatigue, constipation, thinning hair, dry skin, weight gain and feeling cold.

If this sounds like you and it’s been a while since you had your thyroid checked, ask your doctor to do a TRH Stimulation (or TRH Challenge) test.

Stress
Yes, believe it or not, stress can cause your nose to stuff up.

Stress impairs the proper functioning of your immune system, which in turn makes you more susceptible to repeated respiratory infections and colds.

Take measures to curb your stress level, remembering that regular exercise is one of the best stress relievers out there!

Certain medications
Ah yes, medications—they giveth and they taketh away.

In this case, medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen and beta blockers for hypertension can all cause nasal congestion (among many other side effects).

If your medication is causing congestion, talk to your doctor about milder or natural alternatives.  Fish oil has been shown in countless studies to be helpful for inflammation and pain as well as high blood pressure!

Polyps
Polyps are abnormal growths of tissue that most often occur in the nose, colon or uterus, and when they appear in the nose they can obstruct breathing.  Although they’re non-cancerous, they still suggest an abnormal growth pattern is present, which may eventually become cancerous.

Polyps can be removed, but they tend to grow back.  Some people have reported that an alkalinizing diet that includes lots of garlic, turmeric, oranges and dandelion greens has helped to curb polyp growth, likely due to their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Deviated septum
A deviated septum occurs when the thin wall between your nostrils is displaced to one side, causing an obstruction in your breathing in your affected nostril.

Surgery (a septoplasty) is the only way to correct a deviated septum.  Saline rinses and neti pots have been shown to be very helpful for many people in easing congestion.

Decongestant spray overuse
You may not be aware of this, but decongestant nasal sprays (like Afrin) are not supposed to be used for more than 3 days, but many people use them far longer.  What happens is you can become reliant (or some people even say addicted) to the medication and your congestion comes back with a vengeance when you try to “quit.”

The best solution is to try to avoid using nasal sprays in the first place. If you’re congested, whether it’s due to a cold, a sinus infection or allergies, try a humidifier, vaporizer or even warm steam from a sink filled with hot water to safely open nasal passages.

And of course, probiotics can be a safe, natural remedy for seasonal allergies and they can help your immune system to better fight off colds and infections too!

See what’s behind your congestion and do what you need to do to breathe easier all year round!

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