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Is Stuffy Nose in the Morning Normal?

Anuja Marathe Kanhere
With over 20 million reported cases of early morning stuffy noses in the US each year, the problem tends to be overlooked as normal. Here is a concise guide to understand this problem.
Waking up in the morning with a stuffy nose can be irritating. It can be a cause of slight breathless accompanied by throbbing in the forehead and mucus blockage around the maxillary facial bones. The condition is bound to clear up after some minutes though. Traditionally, this condition was assumed to be symptom of a cold attack. However, medical experts say that stuffy nose in the morning is triggered on account of untreated sinusitis.

Facts about Sinusitis and Stuffy Nose

Human skull has tiny air-filled spaces called sinuses. These are located above your forehead or in the vertex and in the maxillary facial bones around your eyes, nose and cheeks. Tiny hair called cilia are present in sinuses which help drainage of mucous and circulation of air. A healthy sinus is devoid of any bacterial infection and is sterile in nature.
Sinusitis is caused due to presence of airborne bacterial pathogens such as anaerobic bacteria, gram negative bacteria or staphylococcus aureus or infection causing agents such as haemophilus influenzae, morazella catarrhalis and streptococcus pneumoniae.
These bacteria or infectious agents breed in the cilia of the sinus thereby affecting free movement of mucous out of nasal passages. A stagnated mound of mucous in the nasal passages is in itself the stuffy nose condition.
This condition persists all the time but tends to aggravate in the cooler nighttime when your body is in a horizontal or reclining position.

What Triggers Sinusitis?

Here is a list of commonly occurring factors that are most likely to trigger a sinus problem.

Climatic conditions

On an average,we see a change in weather conditions every 4 months each year. With a change in climate, we are likely to see some symptoms of sinus attack.

Allergy/ Irritants

Sinusitis gets triggered due to accidental inhalation of dust or pollen particles and chemical fumes. Such inhalation is unavoidable and can be allergic in nature for most of the inhalers. Sinusitis is at times triggered by certain medication formulas that you might be allergic too.

Ear or Dental Infections

Sinusitis is often known to get triggered on account of dental infections or ear infections.

Passive/ Direct Smoking

Tobacco which is unconsciously inhaled during passive smoking, is a major cause of Sinusitis.

Sinusitis during Pregnancy

It is a known fact that a woman's body secretes a high amount of progesterone hormone during her pregnancy. This hormone leads to a swelling in mucous membranes with a steep rise in nasal blood supply. This swelling can block the drainage of mucous and smooth circulation of air thereby leading to a condition of stuffy nose in women during their pregnancy.

How to Diagnose Sinusitis?

The extent of sinusitis can be distinguished by its duration viz. acute sinus (up to 25 days) and chronic sinus (50 day or more). Hospitals usually recommend clinical tests, CT scan, nasal endoscopy, tissue culture and sinusoscopy to positively identify a sinus problem.

Treatment of Stuffy Nose and Sinusitis

Medical experts say that a stuffy nose is your body's way of signaling about a lurching sinusitis problem. Never overlook it! If treated at initial stages, you can save a lot of unforeseen medical expenditure.
Some common initial remedies to control stuffy nose problem are usage of common nasal sprays available across the counters. Care should be taken when using nasal sprays as they may get you addicted to them. However, you may opt for using special inhalers that can successfully cure your dust and pollen allergy symptoms.
You may also opt for consuming lots of warm herbal tea, plenty of warm water and taking clinically approved facial steam at least 4 times a day. These help decongest the nasal passages and reduce thickness of the mucus. Stuffy nose can be best treated by consumption of commonly available antibiotics such as amoxicillin, doxycycline & clarithromycin.
It is said that consuming warm water before going to bed and when one wakes up helps keep stuffy nose and sinus problems at bay. There are some promising remedies for stuffy nose in parallel medicines like Ayurveda and homeopathy.
One age-old practices called pranayama (the exercise of breathing) from the Indian Yoga is well-known for controlling stuffy nose and sinusitis problems.
In advanced stages of sinusitis problems, doctors usually recommend nasal irrigation with oxymetazoline. Doctors recommend a combination of intranasal corticosteroids along with antibiotic drugs to take care of some chronic cases of sinusitis.
If medication fails to improve the condition, it is recommended that one should opt for surgical measures to permanently resolve the problem. An age-old surgical technique called Caldwell-Luc radical antrostomy is recommended for this purpose.
Nowadays, specialist in sinusitis use a state-of-the-art technique called FISS (Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery) to resolve sinus problem. Other techniques such as balloon sinuplasty is still under process of development.