What is a blocked nose?
This is difficulty in breathing through your nose. One or both nostrils may be affected. The problem may be due to the lining of your nose or due to a mechanical blockage. Some people are only affected at certain times of the day or when their head is in certain positions. The blockage may be affected by the seasons or may be permanent (all year).
What causes a blocked nose?
The lining of your nose may swell due to underlying allergy or exposure to irritants. It may become congested when you lie flat in bed at night. If the blockage is mechanical in nature, the nasal partition (the septum) may be bent or the bone in your nose may be responsible for the narrowing, particularly if your nose has been broken in the past. Other causes of narrowing include weakness of the cartilage that gives your nasal tip its shape or there may be a swelling inside your nose. Swellings can be benign, like a polyp or a collection of blood vessels called an angiofibroma, or malignant, like a tumour.
Are there any investigations?
The diagnosis of your nasal blockage usually requires an examination by an ENT specialist. The cause may be complex or subtle and often, your family doctor does not have either the experience or the specialist equipment to make an accurate diagnosis. Your specialist will ask you many questions about your nasal blockage, your job and any treatments or surgery that you may have already tried. Your specialist will examine the shape of your nose from the outside and will then examine your nose on the inside, often using a thin instrument called an endoscope. This is not painful and is very quick to perform. Allergy testing can identify any underlying sensitivities and causes for your nasal blockage.
Is there any treatment for your blocked nose?
Yes, of course. The treatment for your nasal blockage depends very much on the underlying cause. If the blockage is allergy related then allergen avoidance, prescribed antihistamines (rather than over-the-counter) and topical sprays can be very effective. Surgery to the lining of your nose (turbinate reduction, turbinoplasty), albeit providing temporary relief, can make medications more effective and can provide you with greater symptom control. These surgical treatments can be repeated. If the blockage is related to the cartilage or bone in your nose, these can be corrected surgically (septoplasty, septorhinoplasty, valve surgery). Your specialist will discuss the options with you in detail after your nose has been assessed. If the blockage is related to polyps or other growths, these are also treatable but may require other investigations, such as a scan, first. A runny nose resistant to medication can be treated by dividing the nerve that causes fluid to be produced inside your nose (vidian neurectomy).
What should you do next?
If you would like to discuss your blocked nose or runny nose symptoms with Mr Bhalla, please contact Lesley (0161 495-7774) for an appointment or, fill out an online booking form.