The Nurofen guide to nasal congestion

Published on 19th December 2017

Edited on 19th December 2017


Nasal congestion (commonly known as a blocked nose) can be a bit of an annoyance and affect your day to day life. Read on for the Nurofen guide to what causes nasal congestion, treatment, and when you should see a doctor.

What causes nasal congestion?

Most of the time nasal congestion is likely the symptom of another condition such as an allergy or infection. The inside of your nose is lined with lots of small blood vessels, which can become irritated as the result of an infection or allergy. Your body’s immune responds to this by increasing blood flow to the nose, which in turn causes the blood vessels to swell and become inflamed.

Here are some common causes of nasal congestion:

  • Common cold
  • Sinusitis
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Allergies, such as hay fever
  • Nasal polyps
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Dry air
  • Stress

Symptoms of nasal congestion

The obstruction of the flow of the air in and out of the nose that accompanies nasal congestion can make it hard to breathe out of your nose as usual. A few of the symptoms commonly associated with nasal congestion include:

  • Blocked or stuffy nose that you can't clear
  • Runny nose
  • Feeling mucus running down the back of your throat
  • Headache or facial pain
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste

Treatments for nasal congestion

Wherever possible, the cause of the nasal congestion should determine what treatment you take. This will be the best way of alleviating the nasal congestion, and also any other associated symptoms you may have.

If you have the cold or flu, then a pain reliever with a decongestant such as Nurofen Cold and Flu Film- Coated Tablets* can help to relieve the nasal congestion and the other associated symptoms of having a cold or flu, such as fever, sore throat, and aches and pains.

Some conditions such as sinusitis will usually be treated with painkillers and decongestants, although with other conditions such as nasal polyps, steroids or an operation may be needed to treat it. If you are unsure about the best way to treat your nasal congestion, it’s best to seek the advice of your GP.

If you have an allergy, there are numerous over the counter treatments which can help you to manage your allergy symptoms.

Self-help treatments for nasal congestion

Thankfully if you are suffering from nasal congestions, there are a number of different ways you can help your blocked nose feel better (and which you can use in combination with medication you may be taking):

  • Steam inhalation: This can help to clear out your blocked nose. Boil a kettle and pour the hot water into a large bowl or basin, and place it on a table. Sit on a chair at the table and put your face over the bowl, for 5 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn yourself and avoid getting hot steam in your eyes. Taking a warm bath or shower could help too. Steam inhalation from a bowl is not advised for children as they risk of scalding themselves.
  • Gargling: Gargling with salt watercan sometimes may help to reduce nasal congestion and 'draw out' excess fluid which could be contributing to nasal congestion.
  • Using a nasal saline spray: A saline spray is essentially salt water. Using this can help to relieve the symptoms of nasal congestion.

When to see the doctor

In most cases, nasal congestion can be treated at home and symptoms should begin to ease after a few days. However, if you experience any of the following it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor:

  • Your symptoms do not get better after 10 days
  • You also have a high fever
  • Your nasal discharge is yellow or green, and with this you have sinus pain or fever (this could be the sign of a bacterial infection)
  • Your nasal discharge contains blood
  • You have a clear discharge after a head injury



* Nurofen Cold & Flu Film – Coated Tablets Ibuprofen 200mg & Pseudoephedrine HCI, 30mg, indicated for the symptomatic relief of colds and flu. Always read the label.