What Is Nasal Obstruction?
Nasal obstruction refers to a blockage of the nose or nasal cavity that restricts airflow through one or both sides of the nose. Most nasal obstructions are temporary caused by colds, allergies, or sinus infections. However nasal obstruction can be caused by a wide variety of problems.
Causes Of Nasal Obstruction
- Deviated Nasal Septum-- The nasal septum is the wall that divides the left and right nostrils. It is made out of both cartilage and bone. A deviated septum means that the septum is crooked.
- Turbinate Enlargement-- The turbinates are bony structures located inside the nose. They are covered with nasal lining. Their job is to warm and humidify the air as you breathe, and to direct airflow through the nose. Irritants such as allergies, viruses, smoke can cause the turbinates to swell which can cause difficulties breathing through the nose.
- Nasal Polyps—Nasal polyps grow out of the lining of the nasal passages because of chronic irritation or inflammation in the nose. They can block the sinuses, leading to congestion, breathing problems and sinus infections.
- Allergies— Allergies are the result of the body’s immune system’s over-reaction to a harmless substance. A reaction occurs that causes swelling of the nasal lining and runny nose.
- Adenoid Hypertrophy— The adenoids are tissue similar to the tonsils located at the back of the nose and above the roof of the mouth. They aid the immune system in fighting off infection. They can become enlarged through infections and allergies and block airflow through the nose.
- Sinusitis—Sinus infections can cause temporary swelling in the nose.
- Nasal Valve Collapse— Weak cartilages of the nose collapse inward causing nasal blockage
Diagnosing Nasal Obstruction
We will ask questions and complete a medical history. We will then perform a thorough physical examination of the ears, nose, and throat. Sometimes a small lighted camera called an endoscope will be passed through the nostrils to examine deep in your nose. Rarely CT scans or MRIs will be required.
How Is Nasal Obstruction Treated?
Treatment depends upon the cause. There are both surgical and non-surgical treatment options. Medical treatment usually begins with a nasal spray in most situations. These sprays are topical steroids that are generally safe to take for long periods of time. There are also topical antihistamine sprays that are effective. If a non-surgical option is not effective for you, then you might need a nasal surgery.
Nasal Obstruction Surgery
There are multiple surgical options depending on the cause of nasal obstruction. The most common causes are deviated septum, turbinate enlargement, and nasal polyps. Please see the Surgical Procedures portion of our site for more detailed information about surgery.
The nasal septum is the wall that divides one side of the nose from the other. It is made of bone and cartilage. A deviation means that the septum is crooked. A Septoplasty refers to straightening the septum so that it does not obstruct breathing. A septum can be straightened by a number of different techniques, but all currently effective techniques require surgery.
In patients who do not respond to medications a turbinate reduction can be performed. A Turbinate Reduction refers to shrinking the turbinates so that they are smaller. Turbinates can be reduced either in the office or in the operating room.