What is Nasal Obstruction?
Nasal obstruction is a sense of blockage within the nose or difficulty breathing
out of one or both sides of the nose.
What are the common causes
for Nasal Obstruction?
There are many potential causes for nasal obstruction.
Some of the most common causes are nasal allergies,
deviation of the nasal septum (the partition in
the middle of the nose on the inside), sinus or
nasal infection, or a number of other potential
Why do allergies cause
Nasal allergies result from the lining of the nose
being over-reactive to substances in the environment,
such as dust for example. When a patient who is
allergic to dust encounters a dusty environment,
the lining of the nose on the inside swells and
produces watery secretions. This swelling inside
the nose takes up much of the space which is normally
available for breathing and makes the passageways
for airflow much smaller. This is the cause of
nasal obstruction for this particular patient.
Treatment can be directed at reducing this hyperactivity
of the nasal lining in order to improve this type
of nasal obstruction.
What is a Deviated Septum?
When the physician reports that a patient has a
deviated septum, this means that the partition
in the middle of the nose (the septum) is bent
and is blocking one or both sides of the nose.
This can cause symptoms of nasal obstruction,
which can be quite bothersome. Many patients
have a deviated septum and do not have a history
of an injury to their nose, but some patients
have developed a deviated septum due to a prior
episode of trauma to the nose. The patient may
or may not have actually fractured their nose
in the past. Depending on how much difficulty
the patient is having with his or her nasal airway,
a procedure called septoplasty may be recommended
in order to straighten the septum and improve
the nasal airway. This procedure is performed
with an incision that is placed inside the nose
to allow the surgeon to work on the septum.
Are there any other structural
problems that can give Nasal Obstruction?
Yes. In addition to a deviated septum, a patient
may also have large turbinates. The turbinates
are finger-like projections on the inside of the
nose on each side which humidify and clean the
air as we breathe. Sometimes the turbinates are
large enough to cause significant difficulty with
nasal breathing. Some patients will have both large
turbinates and a deviated septum, which can further
worsen nasal breathing. Sometimes the turbinates
are enlarged simply as a part of nasal allergies.
If this is the case, treatment may be directed
at the allergy itself. The turbinates may also
be treated with a procedure. The turbinates may
be reduced in size by a surgical procedure in the
A newer procedure, which can be performed in the
office, is called Somnoplasty Turbinate Reduction.
With this technique, the turbinate is anesthetized
in the office with local anesthesia. A small needle
is introduced into the turbinate after it is anesthetized,
and a very controlled burn is created within the
turbinate. Over the following weeks, contraction
of the turbinate occurs as the body's healing process
takes place and the turbinate shrinks. Results
of this procedure have generally been good. The
significant advantage is, in general, very minimal
pain, if any. The Somnoplasty technique is the
same technology that is also used on the palate
(the roof of the mouth) to treat snoring.
To learn more about the Somnoplasty technology, click