Nasal obstruction arises when your nasal passages are blocked or you have difficulty breathing from your nose. Believe it or not, 1 in 20 million Americans suffer from this condition. In addition to being uncomfortable, nasal obstruction can lead to serious problems with sleeping, speaking, and eating.
It can cause fatigue and depression while decreasing productivity and increasing your risk of accidents. The good news is that there are a number of treatments that can resolve nasal obstruction and allow you to breathe comfortably once again.
Causes of Nasal Obstruction
The temporary causes of nasal obstruction include chronic sinusitis, cold or flu, allergic rhinitis, and certain medications such as those used for high blood pressure. There are also permanent causes of this condition such as:
- Deviated Septum: Occurs when a crooked cartilage in the nose obstructs the airway.
- Enlarged Turbinates: Turbinates are bony structures within the nose.
- Nasal Polyps: Non-cancerous growths within the nose.
- Nasal Tumors: These can be benign or cancerous.
Diagnosing Nasal Obstruction
If you suspect you may have nasal obstruction, a doctor will conduct a comprehensive physical exam. They may use lighted scopes to get a good look at your nose as well as imaging tests such as CT scans and MRIs when necessary. An allergy evaluation may be recommended as well.
Treating Nasal Obstruction
At first, your doctor will likely suggest special medications which will reverse the causes of nasal swelling or treat the allergy. A nasal spray may reduce inflammation of the turbinates and nose. In the event medications do not help, surgery may be required to shrink the turbinates. Fortunately, a tissue shaving device or radio-frequency can make the procedure more comfortable and effective.
Preventing Nasal Obstruction
While you may not be able to completely prevent nasal obstruction, there are some things you can do to reduce its risk. If you have an allergen it, avoiding it is a good idea. You should also use a humidifier to add moisture into the air and your nasal passages open. In addition, get into the habit of blowing your nose prior to bed. This can keep mucous from building up and keep your airway clear. Drinking plenty of water, refraining from smoking, and sleeping on your side rather than your back can all help as well.
Contact an ENT Specialist Today
If you're wondering why you can't breathe from your nose, you owe it to yourself to visit an ENT specialist as soon as possible.