Breathing is something we often take for granted. It’s easy not to focus on it until there is an issue and we struggle. If you have trouble breathing normally through your nostrils, it could be due to nasal obstruction. Here we look at what causes nasal obstruction and the symptoms to look out for.

Nasal Obstruction

Nasal obstruction is a condition in which a nostril, or sometimes both nostrils, become blocked. This is almost always a temporary condition that can usually be easily treated in most cases. That said, some causes of nasal obstruction can require surgery.

Several things can cause nasal obstruction. These include:

  • Colds / viral illnesses
  • Sinusitis
  • Medication overuse, such as nasal decongestants such as Sudafed or Otrivine
  • Allergies
  • In children or vulnerable people, it could be due to an object that has been inserted into the nostril.

Different types of Nasal Obstruction

Sometimes nasal obstruction can be due to a congenital cause, such as choanal atresia, which is present at birth. In this case, a thin membrane blocks the back of the nose, preventing the passage of air from the outside through the nostril to the throat. This can be a problem in very small babies who tend to rely on their nasal breathing in the first few weeks of life.

One of most common causes in adults is due to a deviated septum, which can also hinder nasal breathing. The septum is the part of the nose that separates the nose into two halves, and when it is misaligned, it will likely affect breathing. The septum can be deviated from birth, or can be due to trauma.

Other possible causes of nasal obstruction include nasal polyps, oversized adenoids and swelling due to allergies.

Nasal Obstruction – Treatment

Treatment for nasal obstruction will depend on the initial cause. An ENT specialist, such as London ENT, will use a nasal endoscope, CT scan, or MRI to determine a diagnosis before forming a treatment plan.

Steroid-based sprays or drops are often used to treat nasal obstruction related to allergies or sinus issues. Surgery is likely needed if the cause is nasal polyps or a deviated septum. Septoplasty surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and takes around 30-45 minutes. Patients usually notice a significant improvement in their nasal breathing after this.

When to Seek Help

If you are suffering from the symptoms of nasal obstruction and there is no apparent cause, you should seek advice. Nasal congestion may lead to bigger issues, such as nosebleeds, snoring, facial pain, and poor sleep, all of which can affect your physical and even mental health. Booking an appointment to discuss your symptoms is the best way to ensure you receive the most effective treatment to enable easy breathing through your nostrils.

Contact London ENT on 0203 8657225 to learn more about the specialist ENT treatments and consultations we offer.