Nose Blockages: Common Causes, Treatments and How to Finally Breath Free

Constant congestion and other symptoms of nasal blockage can hinder your quality of life and cause you to frequently feel sick and fatigued.

Blockage in the nose or nasal cavity, also referred to as nasal obstruction, may affect one or both nasal passages and includes anything which hinders the airflow in and out of the nose. It is usually caused by swelling of the nasal tissue or an anatomical blockage which creates a narrowing of the nasal cavity and the feeling of congestion.

Typically, the initial treatment for nasal obstruction entails the use of medications to address underlying allergies or other reversible causes of swelling. If there is no improvement with the use medications, surgery may be required to provide sufficient relief.

There are a range of procedures and surgical techniques that may be recommended, depending on the specific type of nasal obstruction.

Below are some common anatomical factors which can contribute to nasal blockage and congestion, along with potential treatments that could help you finally breath free:

Deviated Septum

The nasal septum is the thin strip of cartilage and bone that divides the left and right nostrils. A deviated septum occurs when crooked cartilage and/or bone within the nose blocks the airway, making it difficult to breath out of one or both sides of your nose.  It may develop as a result of just the natural growth pattern of your nose or can be due to an injury. A deviated septum can lead to problems such as sleep apnea, chronic sinusitis and nosebleeds.

Septoplasty is a surgery performed to correct a deviated septum. The procedure is performed through the nostrils, where the surgeon makes a small incision to expose the underlying cartilage and bone. The doctor will then trim or straighten the bent cartilage to repair the septum and improve the nasal airway. A septoplasty is often performed along with other procedures to address any additional factors that contribute to nasal obstruction, such as enlarged turbinates or nasal polyps.

Enlarged Turbinates

The turbinates are bony structures within the nasal cavity that help to warm and humidify the air we breath in and to regulate airflow. There are three turbinates on each side of the nasal cavity. Chronic inflammation from sinusitis or allergies can cause a permanent increase in turbinate size, leading to increased nasal obstruction.

If the middle turbinate, which is located near the opening of the sinuses, is abnormally shaped or enlarged, this may contribute to the narrowing of the sinus openings.

For patients who suffer from this issue, a turbinate reduction procedure can be performed to reduce the size of the turbinates and reduce airflow obstruction.

There are several surgical techniques your doctor may suggest, depending on the turbinates affected and other factors specific to each individual case.  Treatment can entail a traditional surgical procedure. There are also minimally invasive surgical techniques to shrink the turbinates such as the use of radio frequency energy or a small-tissue shaving device, which may be potential options.

Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps are benign growths on the lining of the nasal passages or sinuses. They have been linked to chronic inflammation, such as occurs with chronic sinusitis and allergies. Large growths or clusters of nasal polyps can lead symptoms that include breathing problems, frequent infection, headaches, and loss of sense of smell or taste.

While medications can often successfully shrink or eliminate nasal polyps, sometimes surgery is necessary to remove them. Nasal polyp surgery is frequently performed using a computer-guided imaging system that allows for greater precision and can help enable the most effective and complete outcome.

It’s important to understand that nasal polyps have a tendency to reoccur, and no amount of surgery can change this predisposition. It can, however, be a critical step in helping to better manage sinus disease.   

In some cases, endoscopic sinus surgery or minimally invasive balloon sinus surgery may also be beneficial. These procedures widen the sinus pathways, which makes it possible to deliver medication to the sinus linings more effectively.

Other Causes

There are other additional structural factors that can cause nasal obstruction, and an evaluation by a specialist can best help determine the underlying issues that may exist in your individual situation.  Nasal blockage can leave you feeling trapped in an endless cycle of chronic symptoms and misery, but there are many treatment options that can provide real and significant improvement. Identifying and addressing the root of the problem can be the beginning of freedom from that cycle.

If you suffer from nasal and sinus symptoms that just won’t go away, the Ohio Sinus Institute can help you find the relief you deserve.  Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.