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Common Causes of Nasal Obstruction

woman suffering from nasal painNasal obstruction can cause weeks or even months of congestion and other bothersome symptoms, despite your best efforts at treating its effects on your own.

In this blog, the board-certified ear, nose, and throat doctors at New York ENT explain more about nasal obstruction, including what causes this condition.

What is nasal obstruction?

A nasal obstruction is a blockage of the normal airflow into and out of the nose. It’s usually temporary, but the obstruction can also be ongoing and cause symptoms that don’t seem to go away.

What causes nasal obstructions?

They can be caused by issues that include the following:

  • Allergies – can cause swelling of the nasal lining that interferes with the normal flow of mucus from your nasal passages and sinuses
  • Allergic rhinitis – also known as hay fever, this inflammation occurs in response to an allergen and blocks your nasal passages
  • A cold or the flu – can cause temporary obstructions
  • Sinusitis – a sinus infection can also cause a blockage, especially if it lasts for 12 weeks or more (when it’s classified as chronic sinusitis)
  • Enlarged adenoids – which can cause a blockage in the back of the nose
  • Nasal polyps – non-cancerous grape-like growths that form in the lining of your nose
  • Deviated septum – a crooked or off-center wall of bone and cartilage that separates your two nostrils
  • Medications – certain medications, such as blood pressure medications or the overuse of nasal spray, can cause inflammation in your nasal passages
  • Environmental irritants – such as cigarette smoke
  • Hormonal changes – such as those that occur during pregnancy

What are some common symptoms of nasal obstruction?

The following symptoms are often associated with nasal obstruction:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Stuffy feeling in your head
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Postnasal discharge (the feeling of mucus dripping down the back of your throat)

How are they treated?

A number of treatments are available, based on the cause and duration of your symptoms. In some cases, conservative methods of treatment can be tried first. These include the following:

  • Oral antihistamines – to treat obstruction caused by allergies
  • Allergy shots – to build immunity to substances that cause allergies
  • Nasal sprays
  • Nasal steroids – to reduce swelling and inflammation
  • Antibiotics – to treat infection that’s caused by bacteria
  • Decongestants

If these treatments aren’t effective, an underlying structural issue may be causing your nasal obstruction. Some treatment options for these causes include:

  • Polypectomy – removes nasal polyps
  • Turbinate reduction – reduces the size of nasal turbinates (long, bony structures located along your nasal passageways) that are too large
  • Septoplasty – corrects a deviated septum
  • Balloon sinuplasty – involves inserting, inflating, and removing a tiny balloon in your sinus passages to clear and enlarge them

If you’ve been suffering from congestion and other symptoms associated with nasal obstructions, make an appointment today with New York ENT. Our doctors will accurately diagnose the underlying cause of your obstruction and symptoms and recommend the best possible treatment to help you breathe easier and feel better.

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