Sleepless nights have zero room in anyone’s schedule. So when you’re having trouble breathing at night, or breathing period, don’t just assume it’s due to the common cold. If it is occurring more often and lasting longer than a week, it may be a deeper lying issue.
Let’s start with the source. Typically, if you have trouble breathing, your nose is the culprit. Your nose serves several purposes that don’t become apparent until breathing becomes difficult. Your nose functions to clear, humidify, filter, and warm the air you breathe. For these reasons, a normal nasal function is essential.
Nasal Obstruction is not uncommon and contributes to troubled breathing and restless sleep among people of all ages. Children and adults alike can experience difficulty breathing. Symptoms range from congestion, cough, headaches, to mouth-breathing, tooth decay, and sleep apnea. All in all, they most definitely are treatable, read on to see the four most common causes for nasal obstruction.
1. Structural Abnormality
Deformities of the nasal septum also referred to as a deviated septum, can cause difficulty breathing. Patients may experience enlargement of the inferior turbinates. These nasal structures direct airflow within the nose and create the nasal cycle. Turbinates can become swollen and constrict nasal passages due to allergies, chronic use of nasal decongestants or a collapse of an external nasal valve.
Treatments: Most effective treatment is Septoplasty, in which the deviated cartilage or bone is removed in efforts to straighten structure or relieve nasal obstruction. Depending on the location, rhinoplasty may be needed to reconstruct nose mechanism and appearance.
Change in weather or environment can lead to an allergic reaction to mold, pollen, and dust causing congestion. During an allergic reaction, your body mistakes a normally harmless substance as a dangerous invader and produces antibodies in order to protect itself. When exposed, antibodies release histamine and similar chemicals to clean out the substance by producing watery or thick clear nasal mucous to alleviate congestion.
Treatments: Medicine used to treat allergies are creams, nasal or oral corticosteroids, decongestants, antihistamines, and allergy shots.
3. Nasal Polyps
As a result of allergies, sinus infections, or aspirin sensitivity, nasal polyps may develop. These soft grape-like growths, reside inside the nasal cavity causing severe or complete nasal obstruction in one or both passages of the nose. Although painless, the larger they grow, other side effects lead to loss of smell and frequent infections. Medication can shrink or eliminate the presence of nasal polyps, but surgery is an option to remove them completely.
Treatments: Medications common for nasal polyps consist of nasal corticosteroids (oral or injectable), antihistamines, and antibiotics and are used in an effort to reduce the size or eliminate nasal polyps. If after taking medication does little to shrink the size, endoscopic surgery may be needed to remove and correct problems to eliminate inflammation and future nasal polyp development.
4. Sinus Infection
An ongoing cold can lead to a sinus infection, where a viral or bacterial infection causes increase blood flow to the nose and results in swelling. Once the nasal membranes have become congested, excess mucus blocks the nasal airway and discolored secretions obstruct the nose and drain into the throat causing a cough.
Treatments: Over the counter medications, including antihistamines and decongestants. Doctors typically prescribe antibiotics, while specialists may look into surgery to resolve issues with chronic sinusitis more successfully. Removing the blockage created by damaged tissue in combination with antibiotics.
If you are experiencing symptoms related to nasal obstruction, it is important to consult with a Rhinologist for an accurate diagnosis and plan for treatment. Consult with any of our board-certified Rhinologist at My Houston Surgeons. Book your appointment today with either Dr. Samer Fakhri, or Dr. Arjuna Kuperan.