8

votes

chronic nasal congestion

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 23, 2010 at 3:35 PM

so I have had pretty chronic nasal congestion for as long as I can remember (am in my early twenties).

I was hoping going mostly paleo* would clear it up, but to no avail.

In the interest of 80/20 and the pareto principle, etc., are there SPECIFIC foods/allergies that may be causing the congestion. i.e. do you have SPECIFIC foods/habits that you would eliminate (or add)?

Keep in mind (this gets a little gross):

  1. it's not a ton of mucous or post nasal drip, just a consistent deep blockage. I can breathe through my nose, but sometimes its a little constricted.
  2. my nose will clear up during any kind of prolonged or intense exercise, or sex :)
  3. I know the obvious culprit here is dairy, but I can't say I notice a correlation in terms of dairy vs. non-dairy days and otherwise I would say I am VERY lactose tolerant (genetically northern european, experientially dairy just doesn't make me feel bad)...also again, the problem is not mucous production, but just a deep consistent blockage.
  4. I have tried a neti-pot, and loved it, but the relief was only temporary and the blockage would often return later in the day
  5. Doesn't really seem to change seasonally, either.

On a scale of 1-10 discomfort level, this is like a 3 maximum. I'm just curious because I've had it for most of my life.

*mostly paleo=occasional dairy consumption (cheese, milk), occasional to regular alcohol/beer consumption, and sporadic cheat days (i.e. pounding dominos thin crust with my friends on football sunday)...hahaha so maybe this isn't even 'mostly' paleo

6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6

(2119)

on August 16, 2013
at 02:26 PM

Do you even read this board? ;) I'm shocked you've never heard that eggs can be allergenic! It's mostly the whites.

77188106a9c27a22ad47d0ef7318de7a

(922)

on August 16, 2013
at 05:33 AM

i just ordered a hypoallergenic mattress case and pillow cases. I will report back on their effects.

77188106a9c27a22ad47d0ef7318de7a

(922)

on August 16, 2013
at 05:27 AM

oh god, i had allergy shots for years. i dont even want to think about the mercury and weird stuff in those solutions. not to mention my allergies did not improve whatsoever

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on August 16, 2013
at 05:09 AM

only helps, doesn't even fix the symptoms. does not address the root problem, which is chronic inflammation due to gut issues/diet/food intolerances leading to immune disorder

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on November 01, 2011
at 09:29 AM

really? eggs can be that allergenic?

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on April 08, 2011
at 02:30 AM

I've had very similar symptoms too, for many years. Eliminating gluten helped some, but hasn't fixed it. The congestion actually cleared the most when I went on a raw milk-only diet for 10 days, so I don't think it could be dairy. Different houses, changes in weather, new bedding -- nothing else has made a difference. Maybe I'll try eliminating eggs; there have been very few days in the past 30+ years when I haven't had eggs. I've also thought about doing GAPS, to start by healing the gut, figuring that will help whatever inflammation is behind it.

C9c851f5cfb8bad7678b51fabff26615

(100)

on April 08, 2011
at 01:40 AM

The effect is gradually increasing, but "Treatment needs to be continued for at least 3 years to achieve maximum effectiveness in immune desensitisation to the allergen."

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on April 07, 2011
at 12:49 PM

How long until the shots are supposed to take effect?

C9c851f5cfb8bad7678b51fabff26615

(100)

on April 07, 2011
at 10:57 AM

I have the same symptom and I was been gluten-free for a year. No improvement.

461312f31b933638202e0308ab4011b4

(258)

on December 27, 2010
at 10:16 PM

Honestly I've never tested butter. I cook with it, moderately. I'll make eggs with it sometimes or add a tablespoon to veggies. Cream is a no no, but butter I think I'm ok with. I haven't been badly sick in awhile, so no need for me to cut it. Go strict for a month, no butter, no cream. Then integrate it and see how you feel. That's usually the best way to find out!

14aa918d730371ed14f8e7e7d6eb6587

(373)

on December 24, 2010
at 09:08 PM

Does cream or butter exacerbate it?

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on December 24, 2010
at 04:21 AM

Sounds pretty bizarre, but seems pretty straightforward, and doesn't look like it'll kill you (just don't breathe in the oil :) ). Make sure and let us know if it works Morgan.

5f0158c23fcb5636e57b4ce097784da0

(1386)

on December 23, 2010
at 10:14 PM

same here. does it get worse when you go to bed? does it get better when you're on the road or traveling? if yes, it's most likely dust mite allergy.

6185384a4ea07e8c7864800209762f11

(60)

on December 23, 2010
at 07:27 PM

Seriously, it works! Amazing.

Da773d29157aa4ad15ab2dad600c56a9

(90)

on December 23, 2010
at 06:15 PM

and you say this really works? I'm going to have to take a go at it!

Dd78061776671a12054e17c660aee14a

(259)

on December 23, 2010
at 05:54 PM

I have had similar symptoms for some time now. I thought maybe it was dairy, but I've always been very dairy tolerant and avoiding dairy didn't change anything. I have noticed, however, that I am much more congested the morning after a night where I've had a beer or two - especially wheat beers.

1cbb6b2a813475d6c0b17fd5e898dc50

(1248)

on December 23, 2010
at 05:16 PM

I had the EXACT same symptoms! Mine, however is GONE when I started paleo. I don't drink any milk and I would say I'm pretty strict Paleo. Well, some weekends when I drink evil beer I get a stuffy nose....stupid grains.

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18 Answers

5
6185384a4ea07e8c7864800209762f11

on December 23, 2010
at 04:50 PM

I want to recommend a practice and a book called Oil Pulling Therapy by Bruce Fife, who is well known for popularizing the health benefits of coconut and coconut oil. Honestly I cannot fully explain why oil pulling might work, but it has totally ended my 30+ years of chronic sinus congestion. It's amazing. Here's a link... http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/article%20oil%20pulling.htm

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on December 24, 2010
at 04:21 AM

Sounds pretty bizarre, but seems pretty straightforward, and doesn't look like it'll kill you (just don't breathe in the oil :) ). Make sure and let us know if it works Morgan.

Da773d29157aa4ad15ab2dad600c56a9

(90)

on December 23, 2010
at 06:15 PM

and you say this really works? I'm going to have to take a go at it!

6185384a4ea07e8c7864800209762f11

(60)

on December 23, 2010
at 07:27 PM

Seriously, it works! Amazing.

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on August 16, 2013
at 05:09 AM

only helps, doesn't even fix the symptoms. does not address the root problem, which is chronic inflammation due to gut issues/diet/food intolerances leading to immune disorder

4
C9c851f5cfb8bad7678b51fabff26615

on April 07, 2011
at 11:13 AM

I've had the EXACT same symptoms for as long as I remember examining my health (that would be ~15 years; I'm 30 now). I'm Caucasian, body fat ~20%, exercise 2-3 times a week.

I experience stuffy nose in the morning, but not runny nose. My nose never runs (except when I get a cold, once or twice a year). What congests it is the lining (the turbinates), which swell for no clear reason.

Anyway, when I wake up, one nostril is always almost completely blocked, while the other is free. Which is blocked and which is free varies, probably depending on what side I sleep on.

During the day inside the office (where air is conditioned and everything is constant), the nostrils randomly get stuffed or free up. Same happens at home (no air conditioning). Allegedly I'm allergic to dust mites (based on two intradermal tests), but one skin prick test showed I was not allergic to anything.

Here what I've tried and hasn't worked

  1. Complete change of environment. Moved from Eastern Europe to California (Bay Area).
  2. Glutern-free diet for a year (I was mis-diagnosed with celiac disease, that's why I tried it)
  3. Vegetarian diet for a few months. I'm also pretty sure I had a dairy elimination diet as well.
  4. Eliminating egg or tea, as others suggested.
  5. turbinate reduction surgery - for a few months I breathed better, but then things returned to usual.
  6. Omnaris + Astelin/Patanase for a month, 2 puffs of each in each nostril once a day. Didn't do anything.

What works for twelve hours

  1. Afrin no drip - amazingly effective, but the label says don't use for more than 2 days in a row.
  2. A modified version of Afrin (Safeway generic nasal decongestant diluted with saline solution up to 85% of the bottle height) - works almost as well as Afrin, and a particular (respected) doctor told me that in this concentration, the solution can be used daily, and that his wife has been using that solution for 20 years just fine.

Here's what works for a few tens of minutes - maybe an hour

  1. Exercising - 5 minutes of cardio frees up the nostrils.

Here's what works for a few minutes

  1. Ricola candy
  2. Halls mints
  3. Similar candy/mints/breath fresheners

What I'm currently trying: Allergen immunotherapy: I've been taking allergy shots for dust mites and common trees (even though I did not test allergic to the trees) for almost 8 months. The results are small for now, but I've just reached the maintenance dose, and "Treatment needs to be continued for at least 3 years to achieve maximum effectiveness in immune desensitisation to the allergen".

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on April 07, 2011
at 12:49 PM

How long until the shots are supposed to take effect?

C9c851f5cfb8bad7678b51fabff26615

(100)

on April 08, 2011
at 01:40 AM

The effect is gradually increasing, but "Treatment needs to be continued for at least 3 years to achieve maximum effectiveness in immune desensitisation to the allergen."

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on April 08, 2011
at 02:30 AM

I've had very similar symptoms too, for many years. Eliminating gluten helped some, but hasn't fixed it. The congestion actually cleared the most when I went on a raw milk-only diet for 10 days, so I don't think it could be dairy. Different houses, changes in weather, new bedding -- nothing else has made a difference. Maybe I'll try eliminating eggs; there have been very few days in the past 30+ years when I haven't had eggs. I've also thought about doing GAPS, to start by healing the gut, figuring that will help whatever inflammation is behind it.

77188106a9c27a22ad47d0ef7318de7a

(922)

on August 16, 2013
at 05:27 AM

oh god, i had allergy shots for years. i dont even want to think about the mercury and weird stuff in those solutions. not to mention my allergies did not improve whatsoever

4
3573f7a18ee620179fda184c7d8b7242

(241)

on December 23, 2010
at 11:21 PM

Eggs were the culprit for me.

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on November 01, 2011
at 09:29 AM

really? eggs can be that allergenic?

6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6

(2119)

on August 16, 2013
at 02:26 PM

Do you even read this board? ;) I'm shocked you've never heard that eggs can be allergenic! It's mostly the whites.

3
25ed4acfb632d928507f8673bcb0923a

(650)

on December 23, 2010
at 06:18 PM

I had a similar issue for many many years. Later I found out that I have a fairly intense dust mite allergy. Wrapping pillows and mattresses with allergen covers, keeping the place clean, and taking a nasal spray (mometasome, fluticasone) daily has helped immensely.

3
C181b533f1fdb423262eb0341cdedcaa

on December 23, 2010
at 04:58 PM

Could be something you're breathing, dust, mold, mites, aftershave, skin cream scent, soap scent, etc. Could be a different food intolerance than milk. Mine cleared up when I stopped drinking tea, which I never would have figured. Try eliminating different things and see what happens. Good luck.

3
B4313b18cc03036a6147543d7b0872d6

(566)

on December 23, 2010
at 04:11 PM

I have no answers, but I echo your question. I've had chronic congestion for about 30 years. Going off dairy for an entire month changed nothing.

2
95eda9fa0cec952b482e869c34a566b6

on April 08, 2011
at 02:32 AM

Have you been checked by a specialist? You could have an infection buried deep in your sinus cavities.

2
76f3ead3aa977d876bcf3331d35a36e9

(4620)

on December 23, 2010
at 09:54 PM

I've concluded that wheat causes my congestion, and it's not a quick fix. If I don't have wheat for say a week, the congestion will still be there, maybe slightly less. It takes me at least a month of no wheat to clear the congestion, possibly more. It's as if my body needs a long time without such a poison to slowly reduce the symptom. It took me a while to figure this out, seeing as I have no other obvious symptoms when I eat wheat.

2
461312f31b933638202e0308ab4011b4

(258)

on December 23, 2010
at 06:52 PM

Cut out milk & all grains. That should at least reduce it. Milk was the culprit for my chronic congestion. Good luck

14aa918d730371ed14f8e7e7d6eb6587

(373)

on December 24, 2010
at 09:08 PM

Does cream or butter exacerbate it?

461312f31b933638202e0308ab4011b4

(258)

on December 27, 2010
at 10:16 PM

Honestly I've never tested butter. I cook with it, moderately. I'll make eggs with it sometimes or add a tablespoon to veggies. Cream is a no no, but butter I think I'm ok with. I haven't been badly sick in awhile, so no need for me to cut it. Go strict for a month, no butter, no cream. Then integrate it and see how you feel. That's usually the best way to find out!

C9c851f5cfb8bad7678b51fabff26615

(100)

on April 07, 2011
at 10:57 AM

I have the same symptom and I was been gluten-free for a year. No improvement.

1
77188106a9c27a22ad47d0ef7318de7a

(922)

on August 16, 2013
at 05:32 AM

I like most others in the thread have suffered for years with chronic nasal congestion to the point of having to blow my nose and spit up mucus many many times every day. this is extremely annoying. try following strict paleo with no grains, nuts, seeds, nor casein unless fermented and from the correct A2 protein. also try some good probiotics from garden of life. I suspect my congestion is linked to ear infections as a young child and the antibiotics that were prescribed to "treat" them.

77188106a9c27a22ad47d0ef7318de7a

(922)

on August 16, 2013
at 05:33 AM

i just ordered a hypoallergenic mattress case and pillow cases. I will report back on their effects.

1
Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on August 16, 2013
at 05:13 AM

I've had sinus congestion since early childhood and it's bothered me so much, hard to even sleep sometimes. I've rid it completely now at age 25 following an elimination diet. Specifically, I cut out all grains/vegs/fiber/sugar/dairy and follow a plain water + red meat diet. Even beef, pork and eggs give me congestion. I only tolerate water, lamb pretty much. No vegs. I figure i'll try adding back foods when I'm 100% healthy but I'm losing weight very quickly and the congestion is nil. also never hungry and feel great. i don't use any meds or oil pulling or any gimmicks, even my seasonal allergies to the environment are gone.

1
63fb06b20d2fc290ac275639fe59b957

on August 16, 2013
at 02:58 AM

Wow, it seems I'm not the only one having this awful congestion. I always had allergies, runny nose, but wasn't really dramatic until about two years ago. Since then I have constant stuffy nose or sometimes completely congested, both nostrils. I live in Cairns, tropical climate, my ENT recons it's my dust mite allergy.

allergy tests: I had skin allergy testing, showed I am highly allergic to dust mites, cats, and recently had another test, eucalyptus pollen also came up. The problem, there are millions of other things in the air, and no test exist for it. Like sugarcane pollen for example.

surgery: I had middle turbinectomy, felt better after for a few weeks, than the congestion came back

Nasal steroid Sprays: My ENT prescribed me Omnaris. Maybe it works if I use it 2x / day. I felt some eye pressure every time I used it. After I done some research, I found out that the spray is extremely risky especially for people with glaucoma family history. Also steroid spray will damage the lining of the nose overtime. So I am not really keen to use these steroid sprays. Congested nose is still better than living with glaucoma!

Natural things I have tried and did nothing or very little: - saline rinse - makes it even worse - capsiacin sprays: some worked but only for a very short time. Doesn't burn the nose at all. - mattress / pillow cover, bought new pillow every few month: some minor help -just recently bough an air purifier, I slept a little better, still need some time to evaluate it. -nasal filters (woodyknows): minor help allergy masks: also very little help

Soon starting Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) drops. I'm a bit skeptical about it, reading so many stories that it only works for a short time. My allergist said that it should fix it for life...hmm, not sure about that.

What did work: Sudafed: but only the original, with pseudoephedrine!!!! the new formula is rubbish, better of taking vitamin C instead!

Spent 1 month travelling throughout Sth East Asia. NO CONGESTION!!!! Came back to Cairns, pretty much the allergy came back straight away with a hooping caugh on the top of it!!!

Spent just over a week in Sydney, took a few days, but got better. (Though it's too short to evaluate it properly)

Plan wait and see how the immune therapy works. If no help, maybe it's time to move. Will go to tasmania for two month for the summer. Will see if it makes any difference.

Question: I'm wondering how the immune therapy went for those who tried it.

If you have any suggestion I appreciate it!

1
4cbc4488855b0421943b57de0a9018c2

(212)

on October 15, 2012
at 06:02 AM

I recommend getting allergy testing. They can test for allergic reactions to many common sources airborne and food allergens. Symptoms such as nasal congestion sometimes require multiple cumulative allergens to enlarge nasal turbinates enough that they impede your breathing. The cumulative effect of allergens is a reason why many people do not think they are allergic to any specific allergen such as pollen, dust, or mold because it really takes a combination of these (and possibly) in addition to a non-allergic environmental trigger such as changes in temperature, lack of humidity, or eating dairy. Also many people do not think they have allergies because their congestion is year-round. It may be possible that your reaction is not to pollen but to dust mites or mold which tend to stay year round given enough moisture in the air and lower temperatures. You can get an allergy test at a certified allergy clinic and many insurances cover testing.

1
B9b739e406d30e2b168aed8e9c93add5

on March 15, 2012
at 08:25 AM

I've suffered from severe nasal allergies/congestion/post-nasal drip, so bad that I was getting three allergen-immunotherapy shots each time I went in (at least once/week, sometimes three) and while this worked for a little while, it never fully solved the problem.

It wasn't until I removed grains/legumes from my diet (I never noticed a change when I experimented with adding/eliminating dairy--I tried this several times), that my symptoms got much better. But there was still something I was eating that would occasionally trigger an allergic reaction (stuffy/runny nose/sneezing). I began to pay strict attention to what I was eating, and I soon learned that it was citrus!

One day, I had an orange for dessert after lunch and ten minutes later, my nose was stuffy/itchy (so I took a mental note). My symptoms went away a little while later, but I had another orange after dinner (at work, not at home, so I was in a completely different environment) and again, my nose was stuffy/itchy ten minutes later. Once I realized it, and cut out citrus from my diet, my symptoms miraculously disappeared! After six months, I only occasionally have an allergic response when I cheat and have something with wheat/gluten in my diet (citrus doesn't even seem that bad anymore, at least not as bad as gluten/wheat). And I've completely stopped my allergen-immunotherapy shots with no ill-effect!

So perhaps keep a food-journal and take note of when you have a reaction...you could find something you never even considered as an allergen.

1
D9f1e6ba838dd6617cecb0214dad4093

on December 23, 2010
at 07:15 PM

I used to have very similar symptoms before going paleo but paleo alone didn't fix it. What did the trick for me was fish oil. When I run out of fish oil the symptoms come back. I don't have easy access to grass-fed meat so these symptoms might be related to inflammation caused by the omega-6/omega-3 imbalance.

1
072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on December 23, 2010
at 06:53 PM

For me, if I have more than a beer, maybe two, I notice more congestion the next morning. It tends to go away pretty quickly. At times, I have played with dairy to try to put on a few pounds for workout purposes, immediate and prolonged congestion.

1
0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

on December 23, 2010
at 06:24 PM

I asked a question along similar lines, maybe some help here:

http://paleohacks.com/questions/4663/resolving-mouth-breathing#axzz18xc9Uz4r

1
1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on December 23, 2010
at 06:23 PM

Adding fermented food seems to help mine more then anything else. I use homebrewed kombuncha, but pickles or any other fermented food with active cultures would probably work.

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