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It’s All In Your Head: Why can’t I breathe through my nose?

It’s All In Your Head: Why can’t I breathe through my nose?

It’s All In Your Head: Why Can’t I Breathe Through my Nose?

When a person cannot breathe well through their nose, we refer to this as nasal obstruction. Nasal obstruction occurs when there is restricted airflow into and out of the nose. This is often referred to as feeling “stuffy, stopped up, or congested”. Approximately 20 million Americans suffer from nasal blockages annually. For many people these conditions are transient and brought on by allergies or the common cold. For others, it could be a persistent ailment that seriously lowers their quality of life and necessitates medical attention.

An acute nasal obstruction is often a result of swollen nasal tissues due to a virus or allergies and will typically improve with time. A chronic obstruction, on the other hand, is most typically caused by a narrowed nasal cavity.

What causes the blockages?

Sinusitis is caused by a prolonged bacterial infection in the nasal passages, which can cause a blockage in the nasal passage.

Adenoid hypertrophy, or enlarged adenoids, is the swelling of the adenoids, which causes an obstruction in the nasal passage.

Nasal Polyps are non-cancerous tissue growths in the lining of the nose that can cause a blockage and impede airflow.

Allergic rhinitis is an inflammatory response in the lining of the nasal passages associated with allergies. This can create a partial or full obstruction of the nasal cavities.

Deviated septum occurs when the cartilage and bone in the center of the nose is crooked due to injury or malformation. This creates a partial or full blockage of the nasal airway.

Nasal valve collapse occurs when the airway inside your nose, or nasal valve, narrows. A collapsed nasal valve prevents air from flowing freely through your nose. Your nose may look thinner or sunken where your nasal valve has narrowed.

What are some symptoms of nasal obstruction? 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

• Difficulty smelling

• Snoring

How do I know if I have a nasal obstruction? To find out the cause of a chronic nasal obstruction, you can reach out to an otolaryngology specialist who can diagnose and treat disorders of the ears, nose and throat (ENT). Often, an ENT provider 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, diagnotic tests such as a CT scan or allergy testing are necessary to help determine the cause of the symptoms.

What can I do to help the nasal obstruction? When anatomical defects result in nasal blockages, surgery is frequently advised to remove or alleviate the obstruction. To relieve temporary uncomfortable symptoms, medication can also be utilized, such as decongestants, nasal steroids and/or antibiotics.

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