Nasal obstruction or the inability to breathe through the nose can significantly affect a patient's quality of life. There are numerous reasons for nasal obstruction that may vary throughout a patient's lifetime. The following is a list of conditions that may cause nasal obstruction.
The nasal septum is the structure in the midline of the nasal passages that separates the left side of your nose from the right. The septum is composed of cartilage and bone and in many patients, it may be off center (deviated) to one side or the other causing nasal obstruction. In many patients, the nasal septum may be naturally deviated without a specific cause. Nasal trauma from injuries such as sports injuries or car accidents can result in a deviated septum. Minor deviations typically do not cause any problems, but if the deviation is more significant it can result in nasal obstruction. A deviated septum is known as a fixed obstruction because it cannot be improved with medication.
A septoplasty is a surgery that can help correct the deviation and allow the septum to be moved into a more midline position and improve the nasal airway. This surgery does not result in black eyes or a swollen nose and is performed without requiring nasal packing. Recovery is typically a week and allows the patient to return to full activity in two weeks. Patients with recurrent sinus infections may also have a deviated septum.
The turbinates are structures in your nose that regulate airflow through your nose. These structures warm and humidify the air along with cleaning particles from the air before it travels to your lungs. The turbinates can become enlarged which interferes with nasal airflow and cause nasal obstruction. Causes of turbinate enlargement could be allergies, nasal irritants such as smoke, medications, hormone levels, and alcohol. Medications such as nasal steroid sprays, antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal saline irrigations are sometimes used to help decrease the size of the turbinates. If medication alone is not effective, then there are minimally invasive procedures called a turbinate reduction offered both in the office and in the operating room to decrease the size of the turbinates and relieve nasal obstruction. Patients with recurrent sinus infections may also have turbinate hypertrophy.
Nasal polyps are benign growths that can arise in the sinuses and nasal cavities. If they grow large enough, they can cause nasal obstruction. They may also cause a decreased sense of smell and taste and contribute to recurrent or chronic sinus infections.
An area of the nasal passages known as the nasal valve can also contribute to nasal obstruction when there is narrowing (stenosis) of the nasal valve. When the nasal valve is narrowed, patients can develop a pinched area of the nose that can result in collapse of tissue when they breathe in through their nose. This type of obstruction can be improved with Breathe Right Nasal Strips and procedures such as Vivaer Nasal Remodeling which is a minimally invasive procedure that enlarges the area of the nasal valve to relieve the obstruction.
A common cause of nasal obstruction in young children could be adenoid hypertrophy. Adenoid tissue is lymphoid tissue in the back of the nose. When it becomes enlarged it can cause nasal obstruction. The adenoid hypertrophy can be addressed by performing an adenoidectomy.
A rare congenital abnormality in infants where the back of the nasal passages are fused together resulting in complete or partial obstruction. There is also a condition known as pyriform aperture stenosis which is also a congenital condition where the front part of the nose has not formed correctly. These conditions require fairly extensive surgical procedures to correct.
If you or a family member are experiencing nasal obstruction call Queen City Ear Nose and Throat at (704) 703-1080 or book an appointment online today.