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Upper Respiratory Disorders

Many people with nasal blockage don't even realize they can't breathe through their nose.

The nose is our preferred way of breathing. Air is warmed, humidified and filtered as it passes through our nose, making it four times more easily absorbed into our lungs, as compared to breathing through our mouth. When your nose becomes blocked, symptoms can be obvious if they happen suddenly, like when you get a cold or have an allergic reaction. But for most people it happens slowly, over time. They become so used to it they think it is normal to mouth breathe. This is often evident in children, when parents say they try to get them to close their mouth and breathe but they won’t. It is really because they can’t. 

Nasal Blockage Symptoms:

Long term nasal blockage can result in early fatigue, snoring and sleep apnea, low exercise tolerance, chronic sinus infections, poor sense of taste, and dental crowding and a high palate from mouth breathing. 

Nasal Blockage causes and treatments:

The most common causes of nasal blockage are:

  • Deviated Septum

    • The septum is the vertical structure that divides the nasal passages within the nose into two sides. When the septum is crooked or bent, it is called a deviated septum. Imagine the septum as a piece of tinfoil that has become crinkled. Those bends take up space in the nasal cavities, which can make one or both nasal passages smaller and block the flow of air through the nose. 

      • Treatment: Medications and treatment to reduce swelling of the nasal lining can be helpful. In serious cases, surgery (septoplasty) is need to correct the deviation.

  • Enlarged Turbinates

    • The turbinates are structures located on the nasal sidewalls that are made of eggshell thin bone covered in a mucosal lining. Their function is to increase the surface area of the nose to help humidify and filter air. Enlargement of the turbinates results in difficulty breathing through the nose. 

      • Treatment:Medications and treatment to reduce swelling of the mucosal lining can be helpful. Surgery may be necessary to shrink these turbinates if they take up too much room or become fibrotic and scarred. There are several surgical techniques to reduce the size of the turbinates, ranging from simply moving the bones to the side walls to removing part of the turbinates.  This can be done alone or in conjunction with a septoplasty.

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