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Nasal Congestion: Causes and Management

Nasal Congestion

Everyone sneezes!
But, if you are suffering from stuffy and runny nose with pain in your sinuses, chances are that you are dealing with nasal congestion.

A stuffy nose or nasal congestion occurs when nasal and adjacent tissues become swollen, causing a stuffing plugged feeling. Nasal congestion or obstruction is one of the most commonly encountered symptom in clinical practice.

What is nasal congestion?
Nasal congestion can be defined as fullness, restricted airflow and blockage or obstruction of the nasal cavity. It is a primary symptom of upper respiratory tract disorders, including common cold or influenza, allergic rhinitis, acute rhinosinusitis, chronic sinusitis, and nasal polyps.

Of these, the common cold is one of the most prevalent causes, affecting adults around two to four times per year, and children (aged 2–6 years) around six times per year.

Nasal congestion is not limited to common cold only; it is also predominant in patients with allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is one of the most common allergic disorder affecting about 10-25% population worldwide. In India, about 20-30% of the population suffers from allergic rhinitis.

What are the common triggers of nasal congestion ?
The principle underlying cause of nasal congestion is mucosal inflammation usually manifested as venous engorgement, increased nasal secretion, tissue swelling and impaired airflow.

Other factors that can cause nasal congestion are modulation of sensory perception, polyps extruding into the nasal airway and physical problems affecting the structure of the nasal passages.

What are the secondary effects of nasal congestion?
Patients with nasal congestion have a poor quality of life as it interferes daily activities as well as sleeping pattern. Nasal congestion is easily diagnosed by patient history, physical examination and by measuring nasal resistance and other methods, as needed.
It can lead to some secondary effects on paranasal sinuses, ears, throat, voice, and chest that manifest as irritated throat, headaches, impairment in hearing, reduced ability to smell, worsening of asthma, problematic snoring, and disturbance of sleep.

What are the management options?
The management of nasal congestion is often based on developing pharmacologic therapies that target mucosal inflammation and its manifestations, such as venous engorgement.
The conventional pharmacologic therapies used for relieving nasal congestion are antihistamines, leukotriene receptor antagonists, decongestants, and intranasal corticosteroids.

Nasal decongestants use in relieving nasal obstruction

Among all drug classes, nasal decongestants are one of the primary conservative management of nasal congestion in adults and children. It facilitates draining of blocked secretion and reduces blockage and related symptoms of mucosal hypersecretion. This drug class is easily accessible (often without a prescription), so can be self-administered and have a fast action after topical application.

Due to the faster onset of action and easier availability, the need for decongestants and frequent self-medication has increased among patients with reversible nasal congestion.

Most physicians are in favour of prescribing nasal spray decongestant, especially Xylometazoline, due to the quick response, long duration of effect as well as lesser myocardial and bronchiolar effects as compared to systemic decongestants.

Xylometazoline spray is indicated for the symptomatic relief of nasal congestion, perennial and allergic rhinitis (including hay fever), sinusitis. It is proven to be safe and effective so it can be used without a prescription.

Let’s explore the potential benefits and efficacy of Xylometazoline in relieving nasal congestion:

Xylometazoline is a nasal vasoconstricting decongestant drug which causes constriction of blood vessels with a subjective sensation of improved nasal airflow. It is usually applied as a spray or drops into the nose to ease inflammation and obstruction of the nasal pathway. It is rapid and long-lasting, resulting in significant relief of nasal congestion with just one spray, helping patients to breathe more efficiently for a longer time.

Benefits of Xylometazoline
Xylometazoline nasal spray is used to provide relief from:
Nasal congestion (blocked nose, including colds)
Perennial and allergic rhinitis (recurring inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes, including hay fever)

Mechanism of action:
Airflow in the congested nose is facilitated by activation of α-adrenergic receptors in vessels of the nasal mucosa. The receptors for mediating this effect are termed as α1- adrenergic and α2-adrenergic for veins and arterioles, respectively.
Xylometazoline acts on these alpha-adrenergic receptors in the arterioles of the nasal mucosa. The activation of alpha-adrenergic receptors further stimulates the adrenal system to causes systemic vasoconstriction. As a result, there is a decrease in blood flow of nasal passages, consequently decreasing nasal congestion. It further facilitates airflow and produces a prolonged (8-12 hours) decongesting effect.

Dosage of Xylometazoline Nasal Spray
The recommended dose of Xylometazoline Nasal Spray for adults and children over 12 years of age is:
1 inhalation in each nostril, every 8-10 hours, as necessary. The dose should not exceed 3 daily applications in each nostril

Side Effects of Xylometazoline Nasal Spray
Along with uses of Xylometazoline Nasal Spray, some unwanted effects are also experienced. The following are some of the side effects experienced while using Xylometazoline Nasal Spray:

Common side effects

  • Burning sensation in nose and throat
  • Irritation of the nasal lining
  • Dryness of the nasal mucosa
  • Nausea, and
  • Headache

Other rare side effects are:

  • Fast heartbeat or palpitations
  • Blurred vision
  • Temporary visual disturbances

Long term use of Xylometazoline Nasal Spray
The long term use of vasoconstrictors, including Xylometazoline induces rebound swelling and rhinitis medicamentosa.
Research studies have shown that histamine sensitivity in nasal mucosa occurs after 10 days of Xylometazoline use. A significant effect occurs on the nasal mucosa after 20 days use compared to start of treatment.
So, the most active period of Xylometazoline treatment is the first ten days. Treatment period longer than 10 days causes rebound nasal mucosal swelling in patients.


  • The use of Xylometazoline is contraindicated in:
  • Patients with known hypersensitivity or allergy to Xylometazoline
  • Patients with trans nasal surgery or surgery exposing dura matter
  • Patients with Narrow Angle GlaucomaSpecial precautions while using Xylometazoline Nasal SprayXylometazoline nasal drops should be used with caution if:
  • Patient show a strong reaction to adrenergic substances, as manifested by signs of insomnia, dizziness, tremor, cardiac arrhythmias or elevated blood pressure
  • Patient has medical conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, hyperthyroidism, narrow-angle glaucoma or diabetes mellitus
  • Patient use certain medicines such as monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) or tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants
    The use of Xylometazoline nasal drops is not recommended in pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

Till now, you must be mindful of the significance of Xylometazoline spray in the management of nasal congestion and associated conditions.

The prescribed dose of Xylometazoline nasal spray is easily available on the Dr Best Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd. As EZINOZ -XM

Dr Best Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd is working to provide medicines of major therapeutic classes such as cardiovascular drugs, antihypertensives, antidiabetics, hypolipidemic drugs, analgesics, vitamins, antibiotics, and many more products at 80% lesser price.

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