What Is Congestion? Symptoms, Causes & Treatments.

Breathing consists of two phases: breathing in (inhalation) and breathing out (exhalation). Breathing involves the movement of air into and out of the chest, and is also called ventilation. The term respiration relates to the exchange of gases in the lungs that happens when you breathe.1

The respiratory system works so that you breathe in and out comfortably at rest where the least effort is required to move air – and you’re probably not conscious of your breathing. When you exercise, you need to move more air. To do this you can take bigger breaths or breathe more quickly – usually both.2


What happens when our nose is congested?

Most of us think we get a blocked nose as a result of a build-up of excess much mucus. Actually, it’s the swelling of the nasal lining that leads to nasal congestion.

Having a blocked nose – with or without common cold symptoms – can be a drag. It not only interferes with our daytime activities, it can keep us awake at night, as well.3

A person washes their hands to maintain good hygiene and avoid cold and flu.
A humidifier is a great support to fight persistent congestion symptoms by washing away trapped air pollutants from your nose.

How can I relieve nasal congestion?

Otrivin Breathe Clean is a preservative-free nasal spray that gently cleanses nasal airways. Cleanse your nose so you can breathe cleaner.8

Otrivin Breathe Clean Daily Nasal Cleanser

Cleanse and restore your nose everyday so you can breathe cleaner.8

Learn more


  1. Novotny S, Kravitz L. The Science of Breathing. Available from: https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/Breathing.html (last accessed March 2020)
  2. A.Vogel. Constant blocked nose. Available at: https://www.avogel.co.uk/health/immune-system/blocked-nose/constant-blocked-nose/ (last accessed April 2020)
  3. Meltzer EO, et al. Treatment of congestion in upper respiratory diseases. Int J Gen Med. 2010; 3: 69–91. 
  4. Dykewicz MS, Hamilos DL. Rhinitis and sinusitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Feb;125(2 Suppl 2):S103–15
  5. Shusterman D. The effects of air pollutants and irritants on the upper airway. Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2011;8(1):101–5
  6. NHS. Common cold. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/common-cold/ (last accessed April 2020)
  7. Rabago D and Zgierska A. Saline nasal irrigation for upper respiratory conditions. Am Fam Physician. 2009;80(10):1117–9
  8. Papsin B, McTavish A. Saline nasal irrigation. Its role as an adjunct treatment. Can Fam Physician. 2003; 49:168–73

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