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Nasal obstruction: causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Nasal obstruction is a condition that affects a large part of the population. Therefore, it is a widespread reason for consulting with doctors since it can affect people who suffer from it so much that it decreases their quality of life considerably. Its high frequency is because there are many possible causes of different origins, some more common than others. We invite you to continue reading this article on nasal obstruction: causes and treatment at FastlyHeal, to learn more about this common condition.

Permanent nasal obstruction due to abnormalities in the anatomy

Nasal obstruction is the decrease in the passage of air through the nose. This condition can have many causes, some being much more common than others. The first causes of nasal obstruction are abnormalities in the person’s anatomy.

Inside the nostrils, we can find three pairs of bones called upper, middle, and lower turbinates or shells and a septum or nasal septum that separates those on the right side from the left. Sometimes, nasal obstruction is caused by altering the shape or position of these structures. The number of people who present variations of these structures is considerably high, although many times they do not cause any inconvenience:

  • Nasal septum deviation: It is perhaps the most common. The septum or nasal septum is displaced to one side, causing a decrease in the air passage.
  • Hypertrophy of turbinates: another prevalent condition where one or more turbinates have excessive growth, these large turbinates prevent air from passing usually.
  • Bull or bullous turbinate: enlargement of the middle turbinate caused by an air cell.
  • Septum perforation: Caused by trauma, infection, drugs, or drugs. Produces a deflection of air.
  • Collapsing valve r: is the closure of the nostrils at the moment of inspiration.
  • Choanal atresia: Obstruction caused by a tissue that occurs from birth.

Nasal obstruction due to mucosal diseases

The entire interior of the nostrils is covered by a tissue called respiratory mucosa. When this tissue undergoes an irritation that causes inflammation, the space inside the nostrils is reduced, which can cause nasal obstruction. Some of the primary diseases that cause nasal obstruction are:

  • Catarrhal rhinitis is the most common of all; it is associated with the common cold virus.
  • Bacterial rhinitis: Similar to the previous one, but caused by bacteria
  • Allergic rhinitis: Hypersensitive to certain substances such as dust.
  • Vasomotor rhinitis: Blood vessels in the mucosa dilate, increasing the mucosa volume. Its cause is unknown with certainty.
  • Chronic hypertrophic rhinitis: The constant irritation of the mucosa causes its excessive growth.
  • Sinusitis is the inflammation of the mucosa that lines the paranasal sinuses, which are structures that are part of the airways.

Nasal obstruction due to tumors

It is the abnormal growth of any of the tissues of the nasal passages or sinuses. Although it is a much less common reason, it should not be ruled out.

  • Adenoid hypertrophy: It is the excessive growth of adenoids, structures that are found at the bottom of the nostrils. It is common in children.
  • Nasal or sinus polyps: Growth of soft tissue masses in the nasal mucosa or sinuses.
  • Tumors: They are scarce, especially those with malignant characteristics.

Symptoms of nasal obstruction

The main symptom of nasal obstruction is, as might be expected, increased shortness of breath. It can affect only one side or both sides of the nose, being partial or complete concerning how much air can pass through and temporary or permanent, depending on how long it lasts.

It is common for nasal obstruction to be accompanied by nasal secretions, the most frequent being increased secretion of mucus (rhinorrhea), which depending on the origin of the nasal obstruction, can be very liquid or thick and of a light color or a green or yellowish color. There may also be the presence of nasal bleeding (epistaxis).

Due to the limited capacity that some people have to take in air through the nose due to the nasal obstruction, it is common to help themselves by breathing through the mouth. This can lead to mouth breather syndrome, which occurs mainly in growing children. This syndrome is characterized by the underdevelopment of the nasal passages and paranasal sinuses due to their limited use, alterations in the development of the middle third of the face and the components of the mouth, and can even alter posture.

In adults, due to the alteration and malfunction of the soft palate, snoring may occur, and even sleep apnea, respiratory distress, a feeling of suffocation, or shallow breaths during sleep, translates into an incomplete dream.

Other symptoms that may occur are:

  • Speech or hearing impairment
  • Facial pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Bad breath ( halitosis )
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

Diagnosis of nasal obstruction

The conditions related to the nasal passages are evaluated and diagnosed by specialists in otorhinolaryngology. The doctor will first make an interrogation to know the characteristics of the patient’s nasal obstruction. Much of the information a patient provides can help diagnose the type of obstruction.

The clinical evaluation includes palpation of the nose for signs of deviation of the septum, the assessment of the airflow, and the visualization of the nasal passages with specialized instruments to identify the item causing the blockage.

Finally, the evaluation of the patient through radiographic images, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging provides important information regarding the location and size of the component causing the nasal obstruction, as well as a complete view of all possibly compromised regions.

Treatments for nasal obstruction

All causes of nasal obstruction can be controlled or resolved, and it is necessary, especially for those who see their quality of life affected as a result of this condition. The treatments indicated to resolve nasal obstruction are directed at the causative agent. Treatment options include medication, surgery, or both.

  • People suffering from nasal obstruction due to nasal mucosa disease are indicated for drug treatment. These medications include antihistamines (allergies), corticosteroids (anti-inflammatories), and vasoconstrictors (decrease the dilation of blood vessels). The choice of one or the other, or the combination of several, depends on the type of obstruction.
  • The surgical procedures are indicated especially in cases of tumors and nasal obstruction anatomic abnormalities and consist of removing the causative agent, or a fragment thereof, for the air can flow easily again.

In addition, in the following FastlyHealarticle, we explain the best home remedies for nasal congestion and obstruction.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Nasal obstruction: causes and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Lung and respiratory tract category .

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