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Nasal obstruction is a symptom rather than an actual condition, which can be caused by medical conditions such as infection or allergies, or may indicate a structural abnormality, such as nasal septal deformity, nasal polyps, or a problem with the turbinate bones. We treat a wide range of nasal obstruction cases in our Los Angeles area office.
The nasal septum is the separation between the two nostrils. In adults, it is composed of both cartilage and bone. The nasal septum has three functions: support the nose, regulate air flow, and support the mucous membranes of the nose. A deviated septum is a common condition that involves a displacement of the septum, the wall that separates the nostrils, to one side of the nose. The septum is usually straight at birth, but may bend to one side or the other as the patient ages. Trauma can also affect the deviation of the septum, but many patients experiencing symptoms from this condition have no history of injury.
Deviated septum makes one nasal passage smaller than the other, which can affect breathing if the displacement is great enough. Patients with a severe deviated septum may experience nasal congestion, nosebleeds and frequent or recurring sinus infections as a result of their uneven nasal passages. Those with only minor displacement may not even be aware that they have a deviated septum and experience no symptoms.
Treatment for a deviated septum can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the symptoms associated. For most patients, this condition can be managed through decongestants and antihistamines that aim to reduce nasal congestion. For more severe cases, surgery may be required to correct the displacement. Surgery involves a procedure called a septoplasty to reposition the septum in the center of the nose.
Septoplasty is a surgical procedure to correct defects or deformities of the septum, including nasal air passage obstruction, chronic nosebleeds, a deviated septum or the presence of polyps. Additionally, a septoplasty may be performed in conjunction with a rhinoplasty in order to ensure that the reshaping of the nose does not result in a reduction of the amount of breathing space. Patients who receive septoplasty can usually return home the same day. Risks or complications are relatively rare.
The turbinates are small curved bones that extend horizontally along the wall of the nasal passage. Their purpose is to humidify and filter the air that is inhaled through the nose. Turbinate hypertrophy involves an enlargement of the turbinates, which may be caused by allergies or infection. The turbinates naturally change in size as air passes through, but significantly enlarged turbinates may cause nasal obstruction, especially when lying down. This condition is worse for patients with a deviated septum.
Treatment for turbinate hypertrophy usually involves turbinate reduction surgery to reduce the size of the swelling and relieve nasal obstruction. This procedure removes some of the blood vessels within the turbinates so that they can return to their normal size. Mild cases of turbinate hypertrophy can be sometimes be treated through topical or oral decongestants.
Turbinate reduction surgery is a procedure that shrinks the turbinates in order to alleviate chronic nasal congestion and nasal obstruction. The inferior turbinate fills the lower portion of the nasal airway and can become very swollen in response to allergies or infections. Surgical correction of this condition involves shrinking the turbinate with the placement of a surgical probe. Using radiofrequency, the submucosal tissue is vaporized while the muscosal layer is preserved to allow for continued nasal humidification. Patients may experience mild dryness during recovery, but are usually able to achieve effective results from this procedure in our Los Angeles area office.
Allergies are a common condition involving an abnormal response of the immune system triggered by a typically harmless substance. This substance (such as pollen, mold or animal dander) is known as an allergen. When a person is exposed to an allergen, their body produces antibodies and releases a variety of chemicals, including histamine. Histamine is the main cause of most allergy symptoms.
Allergic reactions usually result in mild symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, itching or rashes. Moderate or severe reactions, called anaphylaxis, are rare but can be life-threatening and cause abdominal pain, cramps, vomiting and dizziness. For some patients, allergies can be seasonal and only cause reactions during certain times of the year. This condition is known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever and is usually caused by pollen and other allergens that are in the air from March until November.
Allergy treatments are usually prescribed in the form of over-the-counter or prescription medication. Antihistamines prevent the reaction caused by the release of histamine and help reduce symptoms as well. Decongestants unblock nasal passages and improve breathing. Nasal sprays keep the nasal passages clean and moist and limit the reaction to allergens. But the most effective treatment in relieving allergy symptoms is simply to avoid the allergen.