ZocdocAnswersI've had nasal congestion for 3 weeks now. Is it a sinus infection or chronic sinusitis?

Question

I've had nasal congestion for 3 weeks now. Is it a sinus infection or chronic sinusitis?

Left side of nose is congested, I've been buying medicines such as mucinex maxium strenght but it's not working for some reason it gets stuffier! When i blow nose on tissue nothing comes out i just feel i have something stuck in nose that has trouble coming out if i do get mucus out is only a small amount of clear mucus comes out with a little yellow mucus. Only time i can breathe well on left side is when i'm laying down for some reson the left side nasal passage opens up.

Answer

Sorry to hear about this problem. Nasal congestion is obviously quite common, but leads to millions of dollars in expenses and lost productivity due to how frustrating and painful it can be to not be able to breathe out of your nose. In general, your doctor will consider a common infection of the upper respiratory tract to be a sinus infection when it has persisted for more than a week, or when it has gotten worse after seeming to have gotten better. Otherwise, he or she will often consider other causes. The fact that your nose seems to get better when you lie on your side is a commonly described phenomenon that is called the nasal cycle. For reasons that we don't understand, one side of your nose (everyone's nose) will intermittently swell with blood while the other side of the nose will have less. Every few hours, they will switch. Lying on your side seems to alter which side swells in many people. If you are not able to clear one side of your nose, it is possible that a septal deviation or other nasal obstruction is causing this, not just a cold. Please speak with your doctor, and consider seeing an otolaryngologist.

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