Nasal Congestion & Obstruction

The terms “nasal obstruction” and “nasal congestion” refer to the restricted or absent movement of air through the nasal passages. Many conditions and diseases cause these symptoms. The most common causes of nasal obstruction and sinus congestion are:

Various forms of nasal obstruction can drastically affect a person’s quality of life. If you find it difficult to breathe through your nose or struggle with sleep apnea and snoring resulting in daytime fatigue, you may not realize the extent to which your life can improve once you are finally breathing easily.

Sinus Infections (rhinosinusitis or sinusitis) cause congestion or obstruction due to inflammation or swelling of the nasal lining as well as overproduction of mucus. While most acute sinusitis episodes are caused by a virus (cold) or a bacteria, chronic sinusitis may require the additional knowledge of an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor to achieve and maintain relief.

Nasal Allergies (allergic rhinitis) cause congestion and obstruction in much the same way as an infection: through inflammation and overproduction of mucus, causing a runny nose (rhinorrhea).

Structural Abnormalities cause congestion and obstruction due to a physical blockage restricting airflow through the nose. Common examples of this are a deviated nasal septum, inferior turbinate hypertrophy, middle turbinate concha bullosa, tumors, or foreign bodies (most commonly seen in pediatric patients).

The thin bone and cartilage that divides the nasal cavity is called the nasal septum. When deviated to one side, this can lead to nasal obstruction, nosebleeds, sinus infections, noisy breathing, and mouth breathing.

The finger-like structures in the nose that are responsible for warming, moisturizing, and filtering the air that we breathe are called inferior turbinates. When these become enlarged they can cause nasal obstruction.

Nasal polyps most frequently occur from chronic inflammation, but the growth of the polyps cause obstruction on top of congestion.

Once the source of your congestion is identified, Dr. Killian will work with you to discuss which treatment options are best. Non-surgical options are pursued first to avoid unnecessary surgery. Some of these non-surgical treatments include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Corticosteroids
  • Antihistamines
  • Bronchodilators

If non-surgical options are exhausted, or if the nature of the condition indicates, surgery may be a suitable choice. Dr. Killian completed an additional rhinology and anterior skull base fellowship after his residency to gain more experience and training in nasal and sinus surgery. This makes him one of the most qualified sinus surgeons in the West. He is an excellent resource when you or your loved ones are considering the following surgical treatments.

  • Septoplasty or surgical correction of a deviated nasal septum
  • Turbinate Reduction Surgery
  • Sinus Tumor Removal Surgery
  • Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS)

While many ENT surgeons consider their job complete once a patient recovers from surgery, we take a more patient-centered approach. By doing this we are able to adjust our treatment techniques at every stage of illness and recovery instead of merely stepping in for a surgical procedure. With this patient-centered model, long-term results significantly improve.