The feeling of a stuffy congested nose is simply the effects of your immune response. When you get a cold, your nose, sinuses and throat will be infected with virus cells that trigger a flood of white blood cells to the areas and the dilation of blood vessels means that more white blood cells can travel to the affected area. Pure effectiveness if you ask us! White blood cells also cause the release of mucus. Why mucus you may ask? Well, coughing up mucus and blowing your nose helps your body rid the infected area of virus and bacteria. So, don’t forget to blow it out!
What are decongestants?
Decongestants are used to provide relief from congestion that arises from cold, flu, allergies, hay fever and sinus infection. The blood vessels in the nose can get become swollen due to inflammation from illness or an allergic reaction which is what causes congestion in the nose, sinuses or chest. As I’m sure you’re aware, this congested feeling isn’t pleasant and you start to take for granted all the times where you weren’t all clogged up!
Decongestants work by narrowing the blood vessels and decreasing swelling. Whilst this relieves unpleasant symptoms and allows more space for airflow and mucus to drain, decongestants could potentially do more harm than good.
Watch your blood pressure
As decongestants work by narrowing your blood vessels, leaving less space for your blood to travel and thereby increasing blood pressure. This is a serious concern for people who have high blood pressure as decongestants interfere with medication to treat it. In addition, it doesn’t just narrow blood vessels in the area where the decongestant was used but causes the constriction of blood vessels throughout your body.
Make leave you worse off
Using non-prescription decongestants such as nasal sprays for more than three days could potentially leave you worse off. Once the effects of decongestants wear off after consistent use, it can leave your nose feeling even more congested which makes you think your symptoms are getting worse and leaves you with rebound nasal congestion. This is a downwards spiral you want to avoid, yikes!
There are remedies for relieving congestion that doesn’t require using medication such as decongestants. Nasal strips are available for those who are looking to breathe better at night. Hot steam can really help with congestion so having a hot shower or try breathing in hot steam by putting boiling water and a few drops of olbas oil in a bowl and holding your face near it can alleviate symptoms.
Next time you’re feeling all clogged up whether it's from a cold or from allergies, maybe you should think twice about using a decongestant and try a more natural remedy. After all, congestion is just your immune system fighting back!