Nasal obstruction is a symptom rather than a stand alone diagnosis, and there is a wide range of medical and structural problems that could cause such a symptom. Medical conditions include bacterial infection, viral infection, or allergies. Structural conditions include a nasal septal deformity, nasal polyps, or a problem with the turbinates.
Deviated Nasal Septum
A deviated septum is a common condition that involves a displacement of the septum, the wall that separates the nostrils, to one side of the nose. About 80 percent of people have a deviated septum, which often develops as a result of an injury to the nose. This condition makes one nasal passage smaller than the other, which can affect breathing if the displacement is great enough.
Patients with a severe deviated septum may experience nasal congestion, nosebleeds and frequent or recurring sinus infections as a result of their uneven nasal passages. Those with only minor displacement may not even be aware that they have a deviated septum and experience no symptoms.
Treatment for a deviated septum can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the symptoms associated. For most patients, this condition can be managed through decongestants and antihistamines that aim to reduce nasal congestion. For more severe cases, surgery may be required to correct the displacement. Surgery involves a procedure called a septoplasty to reposition the septum in the center of the nose.
Turbinates are bony structures inside your nose covered by mucous membranes. They help to regulate airflow through the nose and help to humidify and clean the air we breath. The mucous membrane that covers the turbinates can shrink or swell in response to changes in blood flow. Things that alter blood flow such as lying down, certain foods, allergies, medications, hormones, and infections can affect blood flow and therefore cause swelling of the turbinates. Since the turbinates are at the very front of the nasal opening, they are very susceptible to allergy and dust irritation.
When the turbinates become enlarged, they block breathing and make you feel congested. The inferior turbinates are often the source of breathing problems. When the inferior turbinates become enlarged it is referred to as inferior turbinate hypertrophy.
Septoplasty is a surgical procedure to correct defects or deformities of the septum. The nasal septum is the separation between the two nostrils. In adults, it is composed of both cartilage and bone. The nasal septum has three functions: support the nose, regulate air flow, and support the mucous membranes of the nose. A septoplasty involves carefully elevating the coving layer of mucous membranes of the septum, removing the deviated portions of cartilage and bone, and sewing the mucous membranes back together. Only the crooked portions of the septum are removed. There are no visible incision on the outside of the nose, and no change to the appearance of the nose. Patients who undergo a septoplasty can return home the same day after surgery. Talk to Dr. Brian Lee to see if a septoplasty can help improve your breathing.
Turbinate reduction surgery is a procedure that shrinks the turbinates in order to alleviate chronic nasal congestion and nasal obstruction. The turbinates are small curved bones that extend horizontally along the wall of the nasal passage. Their purpose is to humidify and filter the air that is inhaled through the nose. The inferior turbinate fills the lower portion of the nasal airway and can become very swollen in response to allergies or infections. When a patient's turbinates are abnormally large and does not respond to traditional therapies such as antihistamines or antibiotics, surgical intervention may be recommended.
During surgery, the turbinate is shrunk by the placement of a surgical probe. Using radiofrequency, the submucosal tissue is vaporized while the muscosal layer is preserved to allow for continued nasal humidification. The procedure is relatively low-risk and can be done in the office under local anesthesia. Patients can return to work the next day and experience minimal pain or discomfort.
To learn more about Nasal Obstruction, please contact us at (480) 994-0308 today to schedule an appointment.