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Nasal Obstruction 

A nasal obstruction can restrict airflow into and out of the nose and is sometimes caused by an anatomical deformity.  A nasal obstruction occurs when airflow into and out of the nose is restricted. While nasal obstructions affect 20 million Americans each year, they are often temporary and caused by the common cold or allergies. For other people, it can be a chronic symptom that significantly impacts their quality of life and requires medical treatment. 

Causes of Nasal Obstructions 

An acute nasal obstruction is often a result of swollen nasal tissues due to a virus or allergies. A chronic obstruction, on the other hand, is most typically caused by a narrowed nasal cavity, which can result from: 

  • A deviated septum – The nasal septum is the cartilage that separates the left and right nostrils. A deviated septum means this cartilage is crooked, which can lead to a blockage. 
  • Choanal atresia – A congenital defect, choanal atresia produces excessive nasal tissue that can obstruct the nasal passageways.  
  • Nasal polyps – These noncancerous growths form on the lining of the sinus or nasal passages and can restrict airflow.
  • Enlarged adenoids – Located at the back of the throat right above the tonsils, the adenoids are part of the immune system and help to protect the body from viruses and bacteria. In some children, the adenoids are enlarged and can cause breathing difficulties.   
  • Nasal tumors – In rare cases, a nasal obstruction may be caused by a nasal tumor. 

Symptoms of Nasal Obstructions 

As you might expect, the most common symptom of nasal obstruction is nasal congestion. You may also experience: 

  • Difficulty breathing through your nose 
  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • A runny nose 
  • Postnasal drip 
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Headaches 

Diagnosing Nasal Obstructions 

To find out the cause of a chronic nasal obstruction, you can reach out to the otolaryngology specialists at Tampa General Hospital who diagnose and treat disorders of the ears, nose and throat (ENT). Often, an ENT physician can identify the cause of a nasal obstruction by simply viewing the nasal passageways using an endoscope (a long, thin tube with a light at the end). In other instances, imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI are necessary. 

Treatment for Nasal Obstructions 

For nasal obstructions caused by anatomical deformities, surgery is often recommended to correct or remove the blockage. Medication, such as steroids or antibiotics, can also be used to treat uncomfortable symptoms.