Nasal blockage, also known as nasal obstruction, is one cause of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Nasal obstruction can also make it more difficult for patients with sleep apnea to tolerate positive airway pressure treatment.
Successful treatment of nasal blockage depends first on determining the specific cause. Anything from the tip of the nose through the entire nasal cavity and sinuses can be a source of nasal obstruction. A wide range of treatments is possible once the cause of blockage is determined.
A blocked nasal region may be treated using medications such as nasal saline, corticosteroid or antihistamine sprays, or decongestants. Nasal strips may also be an option.
The following surgical procedures are also options:
Septoplasty is performed when the blockage is related to septal deviation or septal spurs. In septal deviation, the septum is positioned toward one side of the nose. A septal spur is a thickening or bowing of the area where septum cartilage meets the bone or where trauma or a fracture has occurred. In this procedure, the septum is straightened and the cartilage and bone that blocks breathing is removed.
Rhinoplasty and Nasal Valve Surgery
Rhinoplasty and nasal valve surgery are used to treat breathing obstruction that originates in the outwardly visible area of the nose. Obstruction in this part of the nose may have originated at birth or have been caused by previous trauma or surgery. In nasal valve surgery, which is usually performed with septoplasty, pieces of cartilage are used to support the sidewall of the nose and support the narrowed or collapsed area of the nose.Sinus Surgery
Sinus surgery is an option for patients who have frequent short-term infections or chronic sinusitis but find little relief with nonsurgical treatments. Sinus surgery involves widening the passageways that connect the sinuses to the nose. This procedure aims to reduce the number and severity of sinus infections and make them easier to treat.
Inflammation of the inferior turbinate is a common cause of nasal obstruction. Inflammation may be caused by allergies or exposure to pollution. Reducing the size of the turbinate may be performed via the following techniques: submucous resection and radiofrequency reduction.
- Submucous resection involves making a small incision in the inferior turbinate and removing part of the small bone that supports the turbinate. The procedure allows the nasal lining to shrink thereby increasing the size of the nasal passage.
- Radiofrequency reduction is performed with local anesthesia and without general sedation. Energy is delivered to the turbinate in a controlled manner. The healing process allows the lining to shrink thereby opening the nasal passage.
These procedures may be combined with outfracture, a procedure in which the small bone within the inferior turbinate is broken in order to move the inferior turbinate toward the side of the nose. This creates more space for breathing.