Nasal Congestion:

How to Find Lasting Relief from Nasal Congestion

By Dr. Ben Kim
DrBenKim.com

When I was a kid, it seemed like I always had a stuffy nose. Sometimes, my nasal congestion was so bad that I had to keep my mouth wide open in order to breathe. There were even times when I couldn’t fall asleep because I felt like I couldn’t breathe at all.

Do you know someone who suffers with chronic nasal congestion? I’m not referring to nasal congestion that comes with typically short-term conditions like the common cold, the flu, a sinus infection, or hay fever. I’m referring to people who feel healthy overall, but can’t figure out why they usually feel stuffed up.

The consequences of living with chronic nasal congestion can be disastrous. For a newborn infant who naturally breathes through her nose, nasal congestion can interfere with breastfeeding and even cause life-threatening breathing problems.

Here are some other potential consequences of chronic nasal congestion:

  • Poor quality sleep
  • Snoring
  • Temporary moments of not breathing during sleep (sleep apnea)
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Interference with hearing and speech development in children

This list could actually be expanded to include virtually every health condition that we know of, since poor quality sleep over the long haul is a clear risk factor for all types of disease and dysfunction.

So what can cause a person to have chronic nasal congestion in the absence of a cold, flu, sinus infection, and hay fever?

In two words: food allergies.

Many people mistakenly believe that having a food-allergic reaction results in a clear and intense symptom like swelling of the tongue and throat, difficulty breathing, hives, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, loss of consciousness, or even death. While all of these symptoms can be caused by food-allergic reactions, many people experience more subtle reactions. And you guessed it, nasal congestion is one of the most common subtle food allergic reactions.

How does a food allergy lead to nasal congestion?

The inside of your nose is lined with a mucosal membrane that is lined with countless blood vessels. You experience nasal congestion when these blood vessels expand and cause the mucosal membrane to become swollen. Expansion of these blood vessels can result from inflammation that accompanies a food-allergic reaction. Typically, this type of inflammation will begin approximately one hour after eating the food in question, and will last for anywhere between a few minutes to several hours after exposure to the trigger food, with the exact length of time depending on the health of your digestive, cardiovascular, and immune systems.

Although people can be allergic to any food, the following foods account for the majority of all food-allergic reactions:

Pasteurized Dairy Cooked Eggs Peanuts Tree nuts (walnuts, cashews, pecans, etc) Wheat Soy Shellfish

In my experience, the single most common cause of food-allergic reactions and the number one cause of chronic nasal congestion in the absence of other health conditions is pasteurized dairy. Avoiding significant amounts of pasteurized milk, cheese, ice cream, cream cheese, and other concentrated sources of pasteurized dairy can completely resolve chronic nasal congestion for many people, even those who have suffered with nasal congestion for decades.

If you are unsure of which foods might be causing your nasal congestion, try eating a substantial portion of only one of the foods listed above during your next meal and observe how well you can breathe through your nose and how clear your voice is in the hours following your meal. You can experiment with a different food with each subsequent meal over a period of several days until you identify your food allergies.

It is quite possible that you have an allergy to a food not listed above. Over several days or even a month, you should test all foods that you eat on a regular basis. In addition to the foods listed above, protein-dense foods like beans, seeds, and commercially raised animal products tend to have a greater chance of causing food-allergic reactions.

Once you identify which foods are causing you trouble, it is best to completely avoid these foods for the time being. At the same time, don’t assume that you will always be allergic to all of the foods that are causing you trouble today. Many people are able to overcome some of their food allergies through a variety of lifestyle changes that help to improve the strength of their immune systems, such as building and maintaining a large population of healthy bacteria in their intestines.

Dr. Ben KimImprove Your Health With Our Free E-mail Newsletter

Join thousands of people from all over the world who receive our natural health newsletter.

  • 100% free. You can unsubscribe anytime.
  • No spam. We respect and protect your privacy at all times.
  • Valuable information that you can use to improve the quality of your health and life.
First Name:
Email:

Reviews

Just a note to let you know how much I appreciate your newsletter. As a fellow health care provider (optometrist) and medical researcher, I find your distillation of the literature into lay terms to be accurate and very understandable. I really enjoyed your contribution regarding macular degeneration. Keep up the good work. - Kristine Erickson, OD, PhD, FAAO

I get a lot of e-mailed newsletters and yours is the only one I read thoroughly from top to bottom. Your advice is enlightening, educational, easy to follow and it works! Thank you so much for all that you offer. - Lisa Abramovic

Thanks for your excellent health newsletter. I look forward to it every week. Thanks for providing the best online health resource I have found. - Moorea Maguire

I'm sure as a doctor you hear your share of complaints. I just thought you'd like to know that there's at least one person in your "e-audience" that appreciates the time and effort you put into sending the emails. I really look forward to them. - Linda H., Raleigh, North Carolina

Many of my adult ESL students are Korean, and enjoy bits and pieces from your newsletter that I have shared with them. In addition to your logical approach to health, I enjoy sharing your newsletter because your English is unfailingly correct as well as easily understood. Thank you for your beautiful approach to life. - J. Zetterstrom

I thank you and your staff for such a great website. I am former National Level Bodybuilder so I know a thing or two about health and fitness. Your site is very valuable and I do my best to pass it on to friends and people I train. It is also a helpful resource in my career as a human service provider working with clients who need to recover from substance abuse. I believe a major part of recovery is getting your body and mind feeling healthy and strong. Thank you again! Great Website! - Michael Christopher, MSW

I truly appreciate your wonderful newsletter - your balanced and professional way of looking at issues is so helpful! - Erica H.

First Name:
Email:

 



Disclaimer: Throughout this website, statements are made pertaining to the properties and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.