Stuffy Nose in the Cold

It's a signal of sorts, and here are tips to figure it out

SUNDAY, Dec. 7, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- If you've ever thought you get more stuffy noses during the winter, you may be right.

That's because the things that cause nasal congestion -- colds, flu, indoor allergies, sinus infections -- are more prevalent in the winter.

Figuring out just what's causing your nasal drip can be tricky, though.

If it's a common cold, flu or other virus, you'll probably have a clear, watery discharge from your nose, according to the National Institutes of Health. You may also have a cough, headache, fever, joint pain, sore throat or muscle aches.

If it's allergies that's causing your stuffy nose, the discharge will still be clear and watery, but you'll probably be sneezing a lot and have itchy eyes. A sinus infection usually causes a thick, cloudy, yellow-green nasal discharge and pain around the eyes and cheekbones.

Once you know what's causing your congestion, you can figure out the best way to treat it. If it's a sinus infection, you need to check with your doctor because it could be a bacterial infection that needs to be treated with antibiotics. If it's a cold or flu, it probably just needs to run its course, but an over-the-counter decongestant may help in the meantime. For allergies, take an antihistamine and try to reduce your exposure to allergens such as dust mites and mold.

To help prevent nasal congestion, keep the air in your home moist with a humidifier or use a saline water spray to keep your nasal passages from getting too dried out.

More information

Because colds and flu are responsible for so many stuffy noses, check out these tips from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on keeping colds and flu at bay.

SOURCES: National Institutes of Health; American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
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