Nasal Obstruction


Once diagnosed, a nasal obstruction is easily treated.

A nasal obstruction is really anything that blocks the nasal cavity. The symptoms and the severity of the condition are dependent upon the type, size, and precise location of the obstruction.

However, if it is suspected that there is any blockage to the airways, the patient should seek physician guidance quickly.


What Causes It?

Some of the causes of nasal obstruction are fairly common and, in general, they can be either congenital conditions or a result of a more acute event. One such ailment is a deviated septum. The septum is the structure in the middle of the nose made up of both bone and cartilage, which serves to separate the two nasal cavities and provide structural support to the nose. This nasal septum can be out of position or bent in such a way that it blocks air flow through the nasal cavities. Deviated septums can be the result of either a malformation during developmental stages or the result of an injury.

Another cause of nasal obstruction is turbinate hypertrophy. Turbinates are small growths on the mucous lining of nasal cavities that aid the membrane in regulating airflow. There are three different sets of turbinates, which are the superior turbinates, middle turbinates, and inferior turbinates. Turbinate hypertrophy is the enlargement of these turbinates, which generally only occurs with either the middle or inferior sets. The enlargement can be either a congenital condition or the result of extended inflammation. In either case, if the turbinate becomes too enlarged, it will become obstructive to the nasal cavities.

Symptoms Of Nasal Obstruction

The symptoms of nasal obstruction are often dismissed for a long period of time because they are remarkably similar to the symptoms of common ailments, such as a cold or sinusitis. These symptoms include facial pain, facial swelling, congestion, nasal discharge, sore throat, coughing, pressure, headaches, and fever. One of the main differences in symptoms when a nasal obstruction is present is that the symptoms are persistent, whereas with common ailments antibiotics will usually resolve the symptoms. Additionally, symptoms of nasal obstruction will often include difficulty breathing, apnea, difficulty sleeping, and breathing through the mouth, which can lead to dry mouth.

How Can It Be Treated?

The treatment method that the physician chooses to utilize will depend on the root cause of the nasal obstruction. Sometimes mild cases of turbinate hypertrophy can be resolved with anti-inflammatory medication or over-the-counter decongestants. Other cases may require an operation to relieve the symptoms and open the air flow. One of the common procedures that is quite successful is a submucous resection, which is an endoscopic procedure that involves the removal of part of the bone. In more severe cases, a coablation, or turbinectomy, which is the complete removal of the inferior turbinate, is recommended.

If the nasal obstruction is caused by a deviated septum, it is very likely that the physician will recommend a septoplasty as it is one of the most common head and neck surgeries performed. A septoplasty is a surgical procedure that removes the part of the septum that is causing the blockage. It is done on an outpatient basis and usually takes less than an hour and a half.