Managing nasal congestion

August 13, 2013 Samson Lee

Nasal congestion is an extremely common complaint that brings patients in to see their physician. Often times congestion is temporarily associated with the common cold or infrequent sinus infections. Nasal congestion can in some patients be more of a chronic daily problem that impairs quality of life, sleep, and exercise tolerance. Sometimes congestion is not a daily problem but a frequently recurring problem associated with frequent bouts of sinusitis.

Frequent causes of nasal congestion include:

  • Deviated nasal septum sometimes also associated with a crooked nose
  • Uncontrolled and undiagnosed allergies
  • Recurring sinus infections
  • Enlarged structures in the nose called turbinates which can block one’s breathing

There are many treatment options for chronic nasal congestion, both medical and surgical. Evaluating which treatment option would be best for the patient requires a thorough examination of the nose and sinuses. Sometimes a sinus CT scan or an endoscopic exam (an examination with a small fiberoptic telescope) is helpful in diagnosing the cause of nasal congestion.

Medical management can include allergy testing and topical or oral medications aimed at reducing the inflammatory response in the nose thus improving the nasal airway and alleviating nasal congestion. Allergy management can include a technique called immunotherapy which can slowly desensitize a patient to stimulants that would normally cause an allergy response (runny nose, sneezing, congestion, etc)

Surgical management of nasal congestion can include septoplasty (correction of a deviated septum), rhinoplasty (correction of a deviated septum and crooked nose), and possibly endoscopic sinus surgery. These surgeries often require little downtime and can be done minimally invasively.  Rhinoplasty can also be performed to make cosmetic changes to the nose in addition to improving one’s breathing.

If you suffer from chronic or frequently recurring nasal congestion and would like to improve your quality of life, please call 425-454-3938 and schedule an appointment for further evaluation.

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