Clear Up Your Sinus Congestion

Stuffy or runny nose. Headache. Pressure between or under the eyes. Frequent sinus infections. If you tend to have these problems year-round, you may suffer from chronic sinus congestion.

Causes of sinus congestionMan blowing his nose

A triangular area within your nasal passage, called the “nasal valve,” is formed by three structures:

  • The septum: the narrow ridge of bone and tissue between the two nostrils
  • The turbinates: fingerlike areas of tissue that warm, humidify and direct air as it enters your nasal cavity
  • The lateral wall: the side tissue that forms the outer wall of your nose

If any of these structures become enlarged, this will decrease the overall area in the nasal valve and lead to nasal airway obstruction. This reduces the airflow through your nasal passages. As a result, you may feel congested or "stuffy.”

Common symptoms of nasal obstruction can include:

  • Trouble breathing through your nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty breathing during physical exertion

Home remedies for nasal congestion

In some cases, nasal congestion symptoms can be minimized with at-home treatments.

  • Invest in a humidifier. A humidifier keeps the atmosphere in the room it’s in moist, meaning your nasal cavities stay moisturized and are less likely to get swollen.
  • Take advantage of your shower steam. Shower steam has a lot of the same benefits as a humidifier. Try taking a longer shower every couple of days to see if that helps.
  • Drink lots of fluids. Staying hydrated thins out your mucus and may prevent your sinuses from getting blocked.
  • Prop your head up at night. Use gravity to your advantage for more comfortable breathing.

In-office remedies for nasal congestion

Home remedies may offer temporary relief. But it’s only when your nasal airway is opened that you can expect to find real, lasting relief.

Iowa ENT Center offers multiple treatments for sinus congestion. Your Iowa ENT Center physician will listen to your concerns and symptoms, as well as examine your sinuses, before recommending a treatment option. Some of our sinus treatment options include:

Chemical cautery

Don’t be alarmed by the name of this non-invasive, painless treatment. It’s a series of three sprays of medications to the nasal airways. Each treatment takes about five minutes, and it’s recommended that a patient has one treatment a month for three months.

Chemical cautery usually can replace daily medications like antihistamines and decongestants. Booster treatments are required every four to six months, and the treatment is covered by most insurance plans.


Turbinates are the bony tissue in the nose that humidify and warm the air we breathe. In some people, the turbinates become enlarged—blocking the flow of air through the nose. That's what leads to the congested, stuffy-nose feeling.

The Celon (pronounced SEE-lawn) technique involves a simple, in-office procedure that may offer relief. It shrinks the turbinates, allowing for normal air flow through the nose.

Iowa ENT Center physicians are among the most experienced in the country with this technology. The procedure typically offers lasting relief, and it’s covered by most insurance plans.

Balloon sinuplasty

Chronic sinus congestion often leads to chronic sinus infections—also known as sinusitis. This is a common condition that’s caused when the cavities of the sinuses become inflamed, normal drainage is blocked and mucus builds up in the sinuses. This causes infection.

With balloon sinuplasty, a balloon catheter is inserted into the inflamed sinus and slowly inflated, expanding the sinus opening. The infected sinus is then flushed with saline to remove the buildup of mucus.

When the balloon catheter is removed, the sinus remains open, allowing normal drainage to resume and preventing future painful sinus pressure. Balloon sinuplasty is typically covered by insurance.


VivAer is a highly effective procedure that may offer lasting relief from nasal obstruction and resulting congestion. It’s performed right in our office, and patients typically return to normal activities on the same day.

With VivAer, the nasal valve area is gently and permanently reshaped using radiofrequency energy. The procedure involves only minimal discomfort and is usually covered by insurance.

What’s right for you?

Your Iowa ENT Center physician can help you find an appropriate treatment option for your sinus congestion. We’ll ask you about your symptoms, review your medical history, and conduct a thorough exam. Then we’ll explain your treatment options and work with you to determine next steps.

To request an evaluation, call us at 515-223-4368 or request an appointment online.