Nasal Congestion

Fixed mechanical blockage in the nasal airways can be due to structural problems such as a deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps, enlarged nasal turbinates and tumors. Inflammatory blockage can occur due to nasal allergies, bacterial infections of the nose and sinuses, viral upper respiratory infections, fungal infections and systemic diseases involving the upper respiratory tract. Patients often have a combination of the two issues.

An Ear, Nose and Throat doctor can perform a full head and neck examination as well as a specialized camera exam within your nose called nasal endoscopy.

Nasal endoscopy can help identify sources for nasal congestion and blockage. Management of the nasal congestion and nasal blockage can be divided into four areas of treatment: holistic therapies, medications, allergy testing and allergy immunotherapy and surgical treatments.

Holistic therapies involve nasal lavage with salt water solutions, elimination of dietary influences on nasal congestion such as dairy, airborne allergen avoidance and air filtration as well as home environment cleaning to reduce dust, dander and mold exposure.

Medications can reduce nasal inflammation in different ways. Antihistamines, which can be given both orally and topically, block the inflammatory effects of histamine on the nasal mucosa. Nasal steroids can be topically sprayed or added to an irrigation solution to stabilize cell membranes and prevent the release of many mediators of inflammation. Leukotriene inhibitors, such as montelukast or Singulair, block the synthesis of leukotrienes which amplify inflammation.

Allergy testing can identify air borne allergens for avoidance or in preparation for allergy immunotherapy which is treatment for specific allergens. Allergy immunotherapy desensitizes the immune system by exposing the body to small amounts of allergen extract over a period of many months. This effect prevents inflammatory reactions to common air borne allergens. Our allergy department provides both sublingual or “under the tongue” allergy drop and subcutaneous allergy shot programs for our patients.

Surgical therapies are very helpful for correcting structural or mechanical blockage issues. Surgeries can correct a deviated nasal septum, remove nasal and sinus polyp disease, drain areas of chronic sinus infection, reduce enlarged nasal turbinates and identify causes for nasal ulcerations or growths.
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