Stuffy Nose
September 24, 2007 7:56 PM   Subscribe

Permanent stuffy nose? One day I got a stuffy nose, and almost a year later it hasn't gone away. What's wrong with me?

One week during the winter I got sick and thought I got a sinus infection. I took nasal decongestants just so I could breathe all week. I haven't recovered in almost a year. My nose just hasn't been the same. I don't have a history of allergies and never needed any medication. It's usually at its worst in the morning and in the evening. What the heck is going on? I live in the Boston area. Is there a nose professional I can visit to take a look?
posted by deeman to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a nose professional I can visit to take a look?

Yes, they're known as Ear Nose & Throat Specialists or ENT doctors. Ask your primary doctor for a reference. I've had a semi-permanently stuffy nose for most of my life, but mine is allergy-related. If you've had yours for a year with no previous history, you should get it checked out.
posted by amyms at 8:02 PM on September 24, 2007

There are all kinds of things that could cause that sort of problem, including a deviated septum, enlarged turbinates, a polyp, swelling of the nose tissues due to some irritant, or other obstruction.

An ENT doctor will take a look to see what the inside of your nose and sinuses look like, and will often order a CT Scan (a special type of x-ray of your head) to figure out what's wrong. Someone who is extra specialized on Ear/Nose/Throat issues is called an otolaryncologist.

Here are my CT Scans, for example. My head before surgery to fix my enlarged turbinates and deviated septum, and after the operation (self links, obviously).

It will make a huge difference to have someone look at your issues and work with you to get better. Surgery isn't neccessarily in your future, there are many other options as well to treat your issues. I went waaay to long with a stuffy nose, and I wish I'd seen a doctor about it a lot earlier.

In the meantime, I recommend a Neti-pot to cleanse and soothe your nose/sinuses (seems to be the preferred recommendation for allergies, etc. on MeFi, but that's because it works), and try to make sure to remove any possible allergens from your environment. Just because you haven't been allergic doesn't mean that you will remain so forever.

Good luck! Hope you feel better.
posted by gemmy at 9:01 PM on September 24, 2007

I took nasal decongestants just so I could breathe all week.

Are you still taking them? If so it could be a case of rebound congestion.
posted by Neiltupper at 9:12 PM on September 24, 2007

The immune system changes as we age. Just because you have no history of allergic reactions doesn't mean you don't have them now. An ENT is a good idea but you might want to visit an immunologist as well and have a skin test.
posted by chairface at 10:53 PM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've recently discovered that something as simple as that little ribbon of smoke from a snuffed candle is enough to completely clog my sinuses to the point of headaches. Never noticed it before a couple months ago, and then whammo, every single time. No history of allergies does not equal no allergies.

Maybe you've got mold in your house, or spiders up your nose. Or it might be a tumor. Best way to find out is to just go to your GP. They'll stick that thing with the light up in there and have a look-see. If they can't tell you what it is, they'll give you a referral to the local wax, snot, and phlegm guy who will.

Those sinus flusher-outer teapot things are great, by the way, but if you can't find them, just go swim some laps in a public pool. Your face will become one terrific mozzarella factory, and all the lifeguards will fall in love with you.
posted by Reggie Digest at 11:25 PM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

As chairface said. I had never had allergies until a couple of years ago. Now I take Deconamine every day (sigh).

Go to a doctor--living with a stuffy nose is no fun!
posted by wintersweet at 11:47 PM on September 24, 2007

I have hayfever-type allergies in the summer, but also suffered from congestion year-round, which the anti-hystamines I use for hayfever did nothing to alleviate. At the point where I realised a few months ago that it was truly miserable, I started using a '>beclometasone nasal-spray once a day, and it has - I'm not kidding - changed my life.
posted by kxr at 5:48 AM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

I did Buteyko Breathing exercises for number of months and since then I haven't had any allergies, stuffed nose or asthma symptoms. All symptoms that I have had since I was 3 years old to various degrees of severity.
posted by blueyellow at 6:16 AM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

That was 7 years ago.
posted by blueyellow at 6:17 AM on September 25, 2007

I didn't know I was allergic to anything until last year when I had several severe asthma attacks. One of the symptoms I had was chronic congestion in my nose.

My allergist gave me a medicine called rhinocourt to clear up my nose a bit. For over the counter stuff, while it'll be gross, Mucinex did a lot to help unclog it, though it does so by causing it to run more.
posted by drezdn at 7:02 AM on September 25, 2007

Probably an allergy to something where you live, like mold or mildew. BUT this could be something insanely serious, like leprosy (I'm not kidding). Get thee to Otolaryngologist aka Ear-Nose-Throat specialist.
posted by OlderThanTOS at 8:38 AM on September 25, 2007

The ENT doc you should go see may instead be listed as an otolaryngologist in some areas. It is the same thing.
posted by fidelity at 8:45 AM on September 25, 2007

I tried a Neti pot and hated it. Hated, hated, hated it. It made me feel like I was drowning in dripping water.

Away, I finally tried a squeeze bottle system that does the same thing. Instead of having to contort my head so gravity will drag the water through my sinuses I can just squeeze and the water wooshes through before I even really notice.

I also think it cleans more effectively because there is some (gentle) force behind the water. But that may just be my macho imagination.

Anyway, if you don't like the Neti pot experience, but want the benefits, try one of the squeeze bottle systems. They are usually available wherever you find Neti pots. (Oh, and they tend to be cheaper, too!)
posted by driley at 10:07 AM on September 25, 2007

I had a similar problem a couple of years ago. I tried the Neti pot and loved it. It works so well that I no longer take decongestants.
posted by melissam at 10:27 AM on September 25, 2007

<lag /> Of course, side effects of beclometasone may apparently include loss of the ability to use the frickin' preview when posting on Mefi. D'oh...

This was the link I meant to include.
posted by kxr at 2:15 PM on September 25, 2007

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