What Causes Nasal Obstruction and How Do You Treat It?

As humans, we are meant to be nasal breathers. The nose is designed to humidify and warm the air, making it more comfortable to breathe through the nose. This also prepares the air so that it doesn’t irritate the lower nasal airway and the lungs. When you can’t breathe through your nose, not only is it uncomfortable, leading to a dry mouth and sore throat, but it could compromise your body’s defenses against bacteria. Mouth breathing also causes problems with your jaw and TMJ, as well as with the position of your neck, leading to facial, TMJ and neck pain.

Breathing through the nose is also a great way to improve lung and brain function. We breathe more slowly through the nose, allowing our lungs more time to expand than when we breathe through the mouth. Since our lungs fully expand when we breathe through the nose, we can extract more oxygen from the air, which is distributed throughout the body and brain, allowing us to function better.

As outlined below, the causes of nasal obstruction can be either temporary or due to permanent anatomical problems. In either case, if you suspect these might be contributing to problems with your sleep, you should schedule a consultation with double board-certified otolaryngologist and sleep medicine specialist Dr. Paul Schalch Lepe.

Causes of Nasal Obstruction and Congestion

Some of the causes of nasal obstruction can be temporary, such as:

Other causes of nasal obstruction can be due to some common anatomical factors, including:

  • Deviated nasal septum: bent cartilage or bone within the nose that that causes airway and nasal blockage
  • Enlarged turbinates: spongy structures inside the nasal cavity
  • Dynamic or static collapse of the nasal valves
  • Nasal polyps: benign growths inside the nasal cavity caused by allergies
  • Enlarged adenoids blocking the back of the nasal passages
  • Other nasal tumors, usually benign but may be cancerous

When caused by a deviated nasal septum, enlarged turbinates, nasal polyps, nasal valve collapse, or other less frequent causes, nasal obstruction requires professional evaluation by an otolaryngologist/nasal breathing specialist like Dr. Schalch Lepe.

No matter what the cause may be, nasal obstruction symptoms or congestion is uncomfortable, and when frequently experienced, it can affect your quality of life.

How to Find Out What is Causing Your Nasal Obstruction

Dr. Schalch Lepe may suggest taking a simple NOSE (Nasal Obstruction and Septoplasty Effectiveness) test to help determine how problematic your nasal obstruction is. He will also evaluate your condition using sophisticated technology when you visit him for a friendly and informative consultation, including nasal endoscopy and in-office imaging.

Treatment for Nasal Obstruction and Congestion

Treatments that alleviate nasal congestion can help you breathe easier, enhance your enjoyment of everyday activities, and improve the quality of your sleep.

At-home Nasal Obstruction Treatment

The simple solutions listed below may help alleviate nasal congestion:

  • Avoiding all known allergens
  • Nasal and sinus irrigation using a saline solution administered via an over-the-counter “neti pot” or irrigator
  • Using a humidifier — moist air helps keep nasal passages open
  • Blowing your nose before going to sleep may help to keep mucous from building up by keeping the airway as clear as possible
  • Use steam to open nasal airways — a hot shower before bed can reduce symptoms
  • Drink plenty of water — liquid helps keep the mucous flowing
  • Do not smoke — irritants can worsen congestion
  • Sleep on your side or with your head elevated with pillows

Depending on the severity and cause of your nasal congestion, your doctor may prescribe:

  • Oral steroids or antihistamines
  • Topical antihistamine or nasal steroid sprays
  • Antibiotics, should a bacterial infection be present

In-office Treatments

Understanding the cause of your nasal congestion will determine the best course of treatment for you. Surgical procedures which Dr. Schalch Lepe may recommend for treating anatomical nasal obstruction include but are not limited to the following:

Balloon Sinuplasty: Uses specialized balloon catheters to reopen and unblock nasal sinus passages

Nasal Valve Treatment: Resolves nasal valve collapse and obstruction

Inferior Turbinate Reduction: Surgery reducing the size of the turbinates inside the nose

In-Office Laser ENT Procedures: Treatment using the Valam Epic Laser device

Take Your Next Step Towards Your Best Nasal Health in San Diego, CA

At Silenso Clinic in San Diego, California, Dr. Schalch Lepe specializes in disorders affecting the ears, nose, and throat and is an expert in both surgical and non-surgical approaches in diagnosing and treating airway obstructionobstructive sleep apnea, as well as a range of other conditions. Every treatment offered at Silenso Clinic is cutting-edge, minimally invasive, and office-based for top-quality results and convenience.

If you have difficulty breathing due to nasal obstruction symptoms, we invite you to get in touch with, you can get in touch with Dr. Paul Schalch Lepe by completing an online appointment request or calling (858) 925-5800. We look forward to helping you live your best life soon.