We take in nearly ¾ of our oxygen through our nostrils. This means even a partial obstruction of our nasal pathways can be significant.
There are a wide variety of potential causes spanning everything from genetics to injuries to alcohol and smoking. With so many potential causes, it can be difficult to self-diagnose a nasal airway obstruction (NAO) on your own.
If you suspect you have an NAO, visit a doctor for an official diagnosis. But to help you get a better idea right here and now, we put together a list of the 4 major symptoms that indicate this condition.
Nasal Airway Obstruction Symptoms
Chronic stuffiness or nasal congestion is one of the key indicators of an obstructed airway. We all get stuffed up from time to time, but if it’s a part of your daily life there may be an underlying condition.
Sleeping Issues & Chronic Fatigue
If you consistently have difficulty sleeping, or regularly feel poorly rested after sleep, it may be due to nasal obstruction.
During sleep, most of us breathe through our nose. As such, an obstruction can prevent us from getting enough oxygen, so we feel fatigued even if we get enough hours of sleep. This can cause or contribute to obstructed sleep apnea.
Difficulty breathing through the nose is one of the most apparent ways an obstruction may present itself. This problem may not be constant. Instead, it could present itself during exercise or physical exertion. You may even feel a full or partial blockage while inhaling through your nose during these activities.
Feeling that there is a blockage or obstruction in your nose, particularly if it causes trouble breathing, is a likely symptom of NAO.
A cold or stuffed nose can also cause a similar sensation, so cause for concern lies in a more regular obstructed feeling.
Common Structural Causes of an Obstructed Nasal Airway
While injury or birth defects can cause obstructions, they can also occur naturally throughout our lives. Different types of structural deterioration or changes can cause different types of obstructions. This can include:
Septal deviation is the most common cause of nasal airway obstructions. This occurs where a deviated septum causes the cartilage between the nostrils to block the nasal package.
Resolving this may require straightening the nose, and surgically removing parts of the septum.
With turbinate hypertrophy, the obstruction is caused by enlarged nasal tissue or bone inside of the nose. The enlargement overflows into the nasal airways, reducing airflow.
If this condition is caused by allergies, it can sometimes be resolved through medication or reducing allergens in the home. Otherwise, you may require surgery to remove part of the bone (inferior turbinate bone resection) or nasal tissue (partial inferior turbinectomy).
A third approach, submucosal diathermy, is sometimes used to shrink the soft tissue by applying heat through a diathermy needle.
An obstructed nasal airway can also occur as a result of a structural collapse. A lateral wall collapse occurs on the outside of the nostril, and the collapse may be externally visible while inhaling. The collapse causes a full or partial blockage, preventing airflow in that nostril.
A nasal valve collapse is the result of structural weakness or narrowing of the nasal valve. This valve is already small so any amount of narrowing can have a significant impact on airflow. A nasal valve collapse is sometimes treatable with a dilator, which manually widens the valve. However, surgery is the most common and reliable treatment for either type of collapse.
Get Rhinoplasty to Fix a Nasal Airway Obstruction
If you think a functional rhinoplasty may be right for you as a way to fix obstructed nasal airways, consult with an experienced facial plastic surgeon.
They will help you understand your options, the risks, and the potential outcomes of this, as well as help you explore other surgical approaches to solve or help alleviate NAO.
Book your rhinoplasty consultation in Toronto.