Stuffiness in nose is a commonly encountered issue which is characterised by blocked nose along with irritation and difficulty breathing. It is commonly caused by an infectious condition such as flu or cold. This leads to excessive production of mucus (to remove the pathogens) and inflammation of the nasal passage. Stuffy nose, in turn, can make it difficult for the nose to drain itself, producing a blocked nose feeling. It has been noted that, stuffiness in nose worsens especially during the night, which is because at night the act of lying down makes it difficult to drain the mucus out from the nose or throat considering the direction in which the gravity acts, and thus giving a blocked feeling upon lying down.
Why Does My Nose Get Stuffy At Night?
As mentioned earlier the most common cause of stuffiness in nose at night is due to infections such as flu or cold. Other possible causes of stuffiness in nose are mentioned below. Most of the causes are overlapping and causes excessive production of mucus which is the prime factor for causing blockage in nose. The causes for stuffy nose at night include:
Allergies: Allergic reactions associated with excessive mucus production may arise from exposure to allergens such as pollen, cigarette smoke, dust, animal hair etc. Stuffiness in nose from allergic condition usually worsens during the allergic seasons such as hay fever season. Sometimes the allergens may be caught in the clothing, hair, or collect in the house and by the time its night, its level may reach their peak, making the condition worse at night. This situation can be avoided by identifying the allergens and taking measures to limit exposure to these allergens. For example, if a reaction is noted upon exposure to pollen, it is advised to close the windows at night. A shower or bath before sleeping can also help in removing the pollen that may have accumulated over the body throughout the day. If cigarette smoke is the causative issue, smoking should be banned around the house. OTC drugs are easily available, which provides relief from allergic reaction (e.g. Luffa Nasal Spray).
Sinusitis as the Reason for Stuffy Nose at Night: Sinus cavities are air filled cavities in the facial region. Sinusitis is a condition characterised by inflammation of the lining of these cavities, which may be secondary to cold or flu. This condition may be acute or chronic in nature. Sinusitis is often accompanied by excess production of mucus (which collects in the upper nasal passages) resulting in blocked nose. Symptoms of sinusitis worsen with posture and worsen upon lying down at night. This condition often lasts for about a week and may improve by itself. Over-the-counter decongestants and nasal sprays often provide adequate relief. Home remedies such as hot shower, steam inhalation, salt water washes are also very helpful.
Dry Dusty Air can Cause Stuffy Nose at Night: Inhalation of dry air (air lacking in moisture) can cause stuffiness in nose which worsens at night. This occurs due to over production of mucus triggered by excessive dryness in the nasal passage, in order to compensate for the dryness. This is common among people who sleep in an air conditioned room. Using a humidifier is very helpful in management of this condition, as they help in adding moisture to the air.
Physical Obstruction in the Nose: Physical obstruction such as presence of a nasal polyp or a deviated septum can cause nasal blockage. Nasal polyp is a small growth of an extra tissue in the nasal passage. This may be caused due to chronic inflammation secondary to sinusitis or allergic rhinitis. Deviated nasal septum is a condition where the bones of the nose are not straight and are slightly deviated to the right or the left. Deviated nasal septum may be congenital or may be caused due to an injury or trauma. Physical obstruction is treated by a surgical intervention. In mild cases, nasal decongestants are often helpful in alleviating symptoms. Other treatment modalities include using a nasal strip while sleeping at night.
Pregnancy: Pregnancy is associated with increased levels of oestrogen and progesterone. There may be increased blood flow to the nasal passages causing swelling of these areas. This can restrict the air flow and thus cause stuffiness in the nose. As with other cases, posture plays a vital role. Lying down worsens the condition. This is commonly encountered in pregnant patients with a history of asthma. It is advised to consult a general practitioner before using any medications for this condition. Home remedies such as steam inhalation, saline drops, and sleeping with head elevation is often helpful in management of this issue.
Viral Infections in Children Causing Stuffy Nose at Night: Blocked nose is very common among children due to frequent cases of viral infection. This is because the immune system of children is not strong enough and is susceptible to viral infections. Besides this, the nasal passage of children are quite narrow and thus get obstructed very easily; because of which any minor swelling or inflammation in the nasal tissues causes stuffiness in the nose very easily. Application of menthol based oils such as Vicks, over the chest, throat and neck area while sleeping provides relief and opens up the airways. Using a humidifier can also make breathing easy for the child. Steam bath and steam inhalation is also very helpful. If symptoms do not improve, the child should be taken to a physician for a check-up.
Stuffiness on nose is a common medical issue. In most of the cases, it is not a serious issue and it resolves by itself. In a majority of cases, the condition is quite responsive to home remedies and over the counter medications. However, if the condition does not improve or is present for a long period of time, it advised to consult a medical practitioner at the earliest to rule out any serious complications and to get the right treatment.