Treating chronic nasal congestion: it may be more than just a stuffy nose

If you feel like you’re constantly stuffed up and suffering a nasty head cold, you’re not alone.

It’s estimated 15% per cent of us suffer from chronic nasal congestion and sinus pain.

With a tiny endoscopic camera, Dr. Brad Mechor can examine a patient’s nose to help diagnose a range of sinus conditions that may be causing sinus pain, headaches and facial pressure.

Leah Christensen suffered from chronic sinusitis — she hadn’t been able to breathe through her nose in years.

“The big thing was sinus pressure. I just thought it was allergies, I was taking an allergy spray for 10 years, not realizing it was something more than allergies,” says Christensen.

Many of us dismiss nasal congestion as simply annoying, but Dr. Mechor says when it becomes chronic, it can take a toll.

“If they can’t breathe through their nose, it bothers them during the day, and they can’t sleep as well at night. So now you’re feeling fatigued and foggy, congested and not rested,” says Mechor.

In Christensen’s case, surgery was the best way to reduce the inflammation.

“It’s like it opened up my whole sinuses, my whole head, there’s no more pressure,” she says with a smile.

Less serious cases can be treated with steroid sprays or over-the-counter saline rinses.

In fact, Dr. Mechor advocates daily saline rinses for all of us, to help prevent sinus infections, nose bleeds and other sinus conditions.

“It will generally help the nose feel more open and clear and the nasal membranes will feel moist and better, stuff isn’t sticking in there, so it’s a good preventative measure, as well,” he adds.

Christensen now washes her nose daily, and can’t believe the difference surgery has made.

“It’s almost like I’ve had to re-learn how to breathe again…I didn’t realize how much air could come in there!”

Plain water will cause a burning or stinging sensation. Dr. Mechor recommends a saline rinse that can be purchased at drug stores or you can make your own.

Dr. Mechor’s Nasal Irrigation Recipe:

1/4 teaspoon of canning or picking salt (NOT table salt!)

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

240 mls of sterile water

Mix the solution and irrigate half of the solution into each nostril using a syringe or Neilmed Sinus Rinse Bottle and Kit.

It is very important to use sterile water (boiled and cooled) and not plain tap water.

Story continues below advertisement