Feeling a little stuffy?  Congestion is a common problem, as anyone who has had a cold or suffers from allergies can attest.  Congestion refers to a feeling of stuffiness in the nasal or breathing passageways. Nasal congestion, stuffiness, or a runny nose is generally caused by increased blood volume to the vessels that line the passages inside the nose.

There are a number of causes of congestion that we all know: sinus infection, cold or flu, and allergies.  There are a few other reasons you may be snotty that fall into the category of “none of the above.” You might be able to breathe easier if you can determine, and correct, the source of your congestion.

Drinking alcohol, especially red wine and beer, can cause sinus pressure and congestion.  Those predisposed to alcohol-related congestion may have a defective gene that produces the enzyme that breaks down alcohol in our body.

Decongestant overuse, defined as daily use for at least one year, can cause congestion. Using decongestants for more than 3 days at a time causes rebound congestion.  Rebound congestion is the worsening of the original congestion due to the nasal passage’s dependence on the medication in order to keep the blood vessels constricted.

Deviated septum. According to WebMD, the most common symptom of a deviated septum is nasal congestion, with one side of the nose being more congested than the other. Recurring sinus infections and nosebleeds can be signs of a deviated septum as well.

Hormones. A 2004 study published in Clinical Otolaryngology and Allied Sciences found that a high level of estrogen triggers nasal swelling, inflammation and mucus production. Pregnancy, menstruation, menopause, hypothyroidism, and oral contraceptive use may trigger a non-allergic reaction of this type.

In a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy, 1,200 people with allergic rhinitis were tested for thyroid disease. More than 16 percent of them were found to have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is the leading cause of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition when the body does not produce enough thyroid, the hormone that regulates metabolism.

There are many other reasons you might have congestion. If your congestion is chronic, see your physician, as some of these conditions could be life threatening.  For more information about nasal congestion, visit the Mayo Clinic website.

Andrea wants to live in a world where the neighborhoods are walkable, bike lanes are plentiful, and the food is fresh, delicious and readily available. A 20-year veteran of the health and wellness industry, she started her career in the fitness industry while earning a master’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, and then on to the burgeoning field of worksite wellness. Andrea has competed in collegiate level soccer, worked as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, wellness coach, and master trainer, climbed 14ers, and completed cycling centuries and metric centuries. All of these experiences give her the opportunity to view well-being from many different perspectives. When she’s not helping others to be their healthiest self, you can find her at a farm to table restaurant, down dogging at the yoga studio, or experiencing the Colorado landscape on a bicycle, snowshoes, cross country skis or on foot.