Nasal obstruction is a common complaint of patients. Nasal obstruction refers to compromised breathing through the nose. Some patients refer to nasal obstruction as nasal congestion. However, nasal congestion is a nonspecific term which can describe a variety of symptoms not related to nasal breathing, including runny nose, sinus pressure, post nasal drip, etc.
So when you see a facial plastic surgeon, your breathing should be fixed with a surgery? Not always. Dr. Shah takes a complete history and physical examination to help see if any medical conditions can be contributing to your nasal obstruction. Here is a list of the most common medical causes of nasal obstruction.
- Allergic rhinitis (red itchy eyes, clear drainage from nose, frequent sneezing)- allergies are perhaps the most common cause of nasal obstruction. About 1/3 of the United States suffers from allergies to some degree. Many patients here benefit from avoidance of allergens if possible and using a combination of oral antihistamines with prescription nasal sprays. In some patients further therapy is warranted such as a surgery to help improve nasal air flow.
- Non allergic rhinitis – this is a category of any inflammation of the nose that is not caused by allergies. Exposure to smog, pollutants, dust, glues, perfumes, smog and a variety of other irritants can promote non-allergic rhinitis. The key here is to find the cause if possible and eliminate it. if a cause cannot be identified, several nasal sprays are usually the first line therapy
- birth control pills
- NSAIDs (class of anti-inflammation medication which can create swelling in some patients. common examples include ibuprofen, aspirin, Advil, Alleve,etc)
- foods – especially spicy foods, hot foods and alcoholic beveragesv
- alcohol (can cause swelling of internal and external due to vasodilation of blood vessels)
- over the counter nasal sprays (causes rebound rhinitis, aka rhinitis medicamentosa. this occurs with the use of Afrin, oxymetalozine, and many over the counter sprays that use either phenylephrine, oxymetazoline)
- environmental irritants – as listed above including hair sprays, cleaning solutions, molds, chlorine
- erectile dysfunction medications
- illegal drugs including cocaine and other snorted substances
- blood pressure medications
A thorough survey of your medical conditions, medications, and your exposures will help make treatment of your nasal obstruction more precise and less traumatic.