A man has a stuffy nose at night

With review and feedback from CEENTA ENT doctor Michael Sicard, MD (Matthews)

You’ve had a stuffy nose all day, but finally you can go to be and get some relief. But once you lie down, it feels like your nose is stuffier. Is that true, or is it all in your head (no pun intended)? And is there anything you can do to make yourself feel better?

What causes a stuffy nose?

Nasal congestion is often a symptom of allergies or illness. It is caused not just by excess mucus in the nose, but by inflamed blood vessels, too. If you have acid reflux, you may also experience the sensation of post-nasal drip. Smoking or environmental irritants can also exacerbate any swelling or inflammation and make it more difficult to clear congestion.

Is my congestion worse when I lie down?

You’re not imagining it. Congestion does get worse when you lie down. Why? For one thing, mucus pools in your head and is more difficult to drain when you’re lying down. Also, dependent tissue tends to swell more, particularly when inflamed.

What can I do to ease this congestion?

Michael Sicard, MD

The first thing you can try is elevating your head with a few pillows, or even sleeping in a seated position. This will help with both drainage and blood flow. You can also run a humidifier, since a dry nose can exacerbate congestion. A warm saline rinse can also flush out any excess mucus, CEENTA ENT doctor Michael Sicard, MD, said. If your congestion is due to acid reflux, refrain from eating for a few hours before you go to bed. If you smoke, quit, not just for the congestion benefits, but for all the other medical benefits, too. Over-the-counter medicines may also provide some help.

Should I see a doctor?

If your congestion persists for more than two weeks or you have a fever or other breathing problems, it is recommended you make an appointment with a doctor. CEENTA has more than 40 ENT doctors who would be happy to care for you and help you sleep easy.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Would you like an appointment with Dr. Sicard? Call 704-295-3000. You can also request an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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