When To Worry About A Stuffy Nose

A stuffy nose is usually a harmless symptom of a cold or a minor allergy. However, there are times when nasal congestion can be more of a concern. Below are a few signs that there could be another underlying condition that needs to be checked out. 

You’ve had nasal congestion for over two weeks

Colds typically last no more than 14 days. After this time, you shouldn’t have any nasal congestion. If you do, it could be a sign that a cold has progressed into a sinus infection.This is when the nasal passages become extremely irritated causing a virus or bacteria to persist within the nose  – even if the rest of your body has recovered from the cold. Allergies, nasal obstructions and smoking can all cause sinus infections too. Seeing a doctor could be worthwhile, as you may need antibiotics to get over it. 

Your snot is a funny color

Another symptom of a sinus infection is yellow or green snot. Your mucus should be clear, but a sinus infection can cause it to become yellow or green as a result of your body sending lots of white blood cells to your nose to help fight off the infection. Other colors like pink, brown and black shouldn’t be ignored as they could be signs of issues like a fungal infection or blood in your nose. This snot color chart offers more information on what each color could mean. 

You’re experiencing nosebleeds

Nosebleeds accompanying a stuffy nose could be another sign of a sinus infection. Swollen blood vessels combined with damage from constantly blowing one’s nose can lead to nosebleeds. Another possible cause could be an obstruction such as nasal polyps. In most cases, polyps just cause long term stuffiness, but they can occasionally get irritated from blowing one’s nose and cause bleeding. Treating nasal polyps may require a prescription of steroid tablets or nose drops. You will need to see a doctor to obtain this prescription. 

You’ve got a temperature

A cold typically does not result in a fever – and if you do get a fever it’s not high. Generally anything over 103 degrees fahrenheit is worth worrying about. This could be a sign that a cold has progressed into a more serious infection, which may require antibiotics to clear up. Alternatively, you may have caught the flu alongside a cold. 

Your face hurts

Another classic sign of a sinus infection is pain within the sinuses. This could cause your whole face to hurt – some people describe this as a pain behind the nose or eyes. A sinus infection can also spread to the ears causing an earache. It could also cause a headache.

You’ve got a toothache

Sinus infections can sometimes cause pain to shoot through the roots of our upper teeth. In some cases a sinus infection may even spread to a tooth, causing a tooth infection. It’s never a good idea to ignore a toothache – if it persists for a few days, consider seeing a dentist as well as a doctor.