Does Chronic Nasal Congestion Worsen Asthma?

Think that your chronic nasal congestion is all in your head? Well, it may also be in your chest. According to the latest research findings, there is a strong link between rhinitis and severe asthma, particularly in those who suffer from a range of respiratory symptoms.

Chronic Nasal Congestion and Asthma

A study published in the journal Respiratory Research in 2010 reveals that having long-term stuffiness along with a runny nose may cause an immune system response that triggers serious asthma. The connection seems to magnify in patients whose asthma is presented in a variety of ways, such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing.

This information comes from the scientists of the Kresting Research Centre of the Sahlgrenska Academy, which is affiliated with the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. They studied a group of 30,000 residents of Western Sweden and found that the greater the nasal blockage, the greater the asthma symptoms. They also discovered that more people overall suffer from serious asthma than they had previously expected.

What this Means for You

If you find yourself coping with the discomfort of nasal symptoms along with your asthma, it's important to make an appointment to see your doctor. Chronic rhinitis is a very common problem and it can certainly worsen your asthma. The good news is that there are some key steps you can take to help head off the problem.

Prevent Nasal Congestion

When your nasal symptoms are related to allergies, using a corticosteroid nasal spray, taking allergy medications, and steering clear of allergens may help head off the discomfort and keep asthma at bay. For non-allergic rhinitis, avoiding smoke and other irritants, treating inflammation with a corticosteroid nasal spray, and taking decongestants can be helpful.

Other ways to treat sinus challenges include using steam from the shower, running a dehumidifier, and using a neti pot to open up your clogged passages.

Control Your Asthma

You should also make a point to talk to your doctor about ensuring that your treatment strategy addresses all of your symptoms. She can develop a detailed action plan to help you stay on top of your condition and manage it effectively. This will probably include taking your medication as directed, monitoring your symptoms on a daily basis, and making changes as needed to head off any asthma flares. You'll also want to take care and avoid getting ill, since this can cause rhinitis symptoms that can worsen asthma.


Lotvall, Jan, Ekerljung, Linda, and Lundback, Bo. "Multi-Symptom Asthma is Closely Related to Nasal Blockage, Rhinorrhea and Symptoms of Chronic Rhinosinusitis - Evidence from the West Sweden Asthma Study." Respiratory Research 11 (1) 2010: 163. Web. 5 Jan. 2011.

"Tips to Remember: Asthma Triggers and Management." American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology., n.d. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

"Tips to Remember: Rhinitis." American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology., n.d. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.