Nasal obstruction is commonly referred to as a “blocked nose.” This is frequently characterized by an irreversible problem, which is a commonly a structural displacement or deformation of the nasal septum (the cartilage and bone that separates the two nasal cavities), or weakness of the nasal valves. The nasal valves are formed by the cartilaginous support of the nostrils. Structural causes of nasal obstruction may result from trauma or could occur during birth. Reversible nasal obstruction is a result of problems such as allergies, infection, hormones, or medications. Common symptoms of nasal obstructions include “stuffiness” as well as dry mouth, sore throat, facial pain and pressure, excessive snoring, halitosis, and decreased sense of taste and smell. Depending on the type of nasal obstruction, medical or surgical intervention could be of benefit.
A deviated septum is an anatomic nasal obstruction which benefits from surgical intervention. A deviated septum occurs when the bone and cartilage that separates the nasal cavities deviates to one or both sides. This can often cause problems such a blockage of airflow, dryness, and sometimes contributes to recurrent infections. Prior to surgery, to relieve the symptoms a patient could use saline rinses, topical nasal steroids, decongestants, or possibly antihistamines. Surgical reconstruction of the septum, or septoplasty, alleviates the contribution of the deviated septum to the sensation of nasal obstruction. This surgery is minimally invasive, leaving behind most of the cartilaginous nasal structure, and should not alter the patient’s appearance. Surgical reduction of the turbinates, structures located on the side walls of the nasal cavities, may also aid in opening the nasal cavity for improved airflow. Rhinoplasty may compliment a septoplasty to improve the visible shape or appearance of the nose.