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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Clogged nose after meals

12/05/2002

Question:

Dear ENT expert,

I have a condition in which my nose gets stuffy or clogged after meals. At times, I do have a hard time swallowing food. I try blowing my nose, but nothing comes out. In order to unclogged my nose, I almost always have to use a Q-tip. On the Q-tip is very thick and large mucus. Once I am able to get the mucus out, my nose no longer feels stuffy.

I`ve been to 2 different ENT specialist and both have told me that I have a deviated septum on my left nostril. I understand that this condition will hinder normal breathing through my left nostril. However, I do not know or understand if my deviated septum is causing me to get a stuffy or clogged nose after meals and why the thick and large mucus.

I have been disappointed with the findings of both ENT specialist. I already know that I have a deviated septum, but they cannot tell me what is causing me to have a clogged nose after meals and the the thick mucus.

Please help.

Sincerely,

Stuffed nose

Answer:

Ordinarily, the nose will react to an unpleasant stimulus (such as tobacco smoke or car exhaust, for example) by getting a little stuffy and producing more mucus. This is a defense mechanism. Some people have this response after relatively innocuous stimuli, such as eating. It is called vasomotor rhinitis. There are a number of medicines (typically prescription nasal sprays) that might be helpful. This would require a return visit to a doctor. On the other hand, although it is less likely, perhaps you are reacting to a part of your meal. I`m sure you`ve already thought to look at the foods you eat, but people will often react to beer or wine by getting a stuffy nose.

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Response by:

Allen M Seiden, MD Allen M Seiden, MD
Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Division of Rhinology and Sinus Disorders, Director of University Taste and Smell Center, Director of University Sinus and Allergy
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati