The most common cause of nasal obstruction is a deviation of the nasal septum. It may be present at birth or arise as the result of nasal trauma. Symptoms include unilateral (one side), bilateral (both sides), or alternating obstruction, postnasal drip, recurrent nose bleeds, and snoring. Breathing usually improves when the cheeks are pulled back spreading the nose open. Use of over-the-counter decongestant nasal sprays will improve breathing but should be avoided because prolonged use leads to increased mucosal inflammation and obstruction. More appropriate treatment options include the following:
Dilator Nasal Strips (Breathe Right)
These dilator nasal strips may alleviate symptoms of obstruction that are caused by a deviated nasal septum. When the strips are worn at bedtime, patients with a mild or moderate deviated septum may find their snoring is decreased. There are no contraindications to the use of dilator nasal strips. If they are effective, they can be used indefinitely for the treatment of snoring.
Surgical Correction of a Deviated Nasal Septum
Permanent relief of nasal obstruction and snoring caused by a deviated nasal septum requires surgical correction. Called a septoplasty, or sub-mucous resection, this procedure is performed in an outpatient setting under local or general anesthesia. All incisions are made inside the nose. Although there is temporary nasal congestion following surgery, patients generally do not experience pain. There is no external swelling or black-and-blue bruising unless cosmetic nasal surgery was also performed in conjunction with nasal septal surgery. The most common complication in nasal septal and turbinate surgery is bleeding, which requires the placement of additional nasal packing.
These are designed to move the lower jaw out and the tongue forward to enlarge the airway. They may be purchased over the counter or custom fitted by a dentist. Potential problems with oral appliances include jaw pain and drooling.
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