Imagine a face, and the nose is probably its most prominent feature. The dimensions of the nose are often a big part of how you look. Its myriad shapes also reveal our race and ethnicity.
Its function is just as vital as it is one of the major respiratory organs of our body. After being inhaled, air is purified and humidified in the nose, before it flows into the lungs.
Anatomically speaking, the nose is made up of bones and cartilage, covered by muscles, mucosa and skin. The muscular layer is very thin and the skin is adhered to the main structures. The nasal cavity is divided by a partition known as the septum, made up of bone and cartilage.
As a specialist on Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), the most common ailment I observe in my patients is nasal obstruction or blockage. This can happen for various reasons, such as deviated nasal septum, swelling or growth inside the nose and others.
Deviated nasal septum refers to the problem when the partition of the nose becomes crooked, due to developmental or acquired causes. Developmental deviation occurs when the cartilage and the bones inside the nose develop at different rates during growth, that is to say that their growth is not synchronised. Deviation can also be due to injury to the nose, causing a swelling inside the nose, which eventually ends up pushing the septum to a side.
Whatever the cause, if the septum is deviated enough to cause breathing discomfort , the usual treatment will be a simple surgical correction, as medication cannot restore a deviated septum to its natural position.
The surgery is known as septoplasty, and it corrects the deviated portion from the inside of the nose and a splint is left for about 5 to 7 days. The surgery should always be done by a specialist, and the results bring much comfort to the patient as they can then breathe normally, without any obstruction.
However, the block in the nasal passage may also be due to swellings with the cavity. The most common finding is hypertrophied turbinate or swelling of the nasal tissues due to overactivity. Patients suffering from this face recurrent allergic problems, constant runny nose, and even slightly deviated septa. Although medication in the form of drops and sprays are prescribed initially, if the ailment persists, electrical cautery, a procedure that reduces growth of unwanted tissue, is usually done; surgical excision maybe suggested depending on the severity of the case.
Nasal polyps are also another cause of blockage of the nose. If caught in its early stages, steroid sprays can help; otherwise surgical treatment may be required.
Blockage or feeling of blockage in the nose may be due to nasal congestion of the mucosa after catching a cold, or if the patient has sinusitis, or allergic rhinitis. Common symptoms include heaviness of the head, headache, difficulty in sleeping, fullness of ears and others. Consulting with an ENT specialist is advised in order to receive appropriate treatment.
In some cases, we can see the deviation affecting the shape of nose externally. Under such circumstances, correction of the septum, as well as the shape of the nose needs to be performed. This is known as septorhinoplasty.
After examining the nose, the surgeon will explain the procedure to the patient. Good results can be expected when done by experienced surgeons; however, the patient may need more than one session of surgery.
Nasal blockage should not be taken lightly as what may now seem insignificant, may cause problems with advancing age. So, whenever diagnosis is made, a suitable treatment should be followed as suggested by a specialist.