Nasal obstruction or the inability to breathe through the nose can significantly affect patient's quality of life. Who hasn't been miserable when they have a cold and are unable to sleep because her nose is completely blocked? There are numerous reasons for nasal obstruction that may vary throughout patient's lifetime.
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 congenital condition where the front part of the nose has not formed correctly. These conditions require fairly extensive surgical procedures to correct.
Common causes of nasal obstruction in young children could be adenoid hypertrophy which is lymphoid tissue in the back of the nose than has become enlarged. The adenoid hypertrophy can be addressed by performing an adenoidectomy.
The nasal septum is the structure in the midline that separates the left side of your nose from the right. The septum is supposed to be straight, but oftentimes it is slightly off to one side or the other and this is known as a deviated septum. Minor deviations typically do not cause any problems but if it is severe, this can result in nasal obstruction. A deviated septum is known as a fixed obstruction because it is twisted cartilage and bone which cannot be improved with medical therapy. A septoplasty is a surgery that can help correct the deviation and allow the septum to be moved more into the midline and improve the nasal airway. This surgery does not result in black eyes or a swollen nose and usually does not require any packing. Recovery is typically a week with return to full activity in 2 weeks.
There are also structures in your nose known as turbinates which regulate airflow through your nose. These structures warm the air, humidify the air and help clean particles from the air before it hits your lungs. Sometimes these turbinates can become excessively large and thus interfere with normal airflow. Causes of enlargement could be allergies, direct nasal irritants such as smoke, medications, alcohol and sometimes they simply enlarge for no reason. Various medications such as nasal steroids, antihistamines, decongestants, and saline irrigations are sometimes used to help decrease the size of the turbinates but iIf medical therapy is not effective, then there are surgical procedures offered both in the office and in the operating room to decrease the size of the turbinates.
Nasal polyps can also result in nasal obstruction and there are many reasons why a person may develop nasal polyps which will be discussed in another section specifically addressing this problem and various treatment options.
An area known as the external nasal valve stenosis can also contribute to nasal obstruction. In this region some people can have a pinched area of the nose that can result in collapse of tissue when they breathe inwards. This is the type of obstruction that is improved with the nasal adhesive strips, and procedures such as Vivaer Nasal Remodeling and Latera nasal implants.