Nasal Congestion and Its Causes

Causes of Nasal Blockage - Stuffy Nose

Causes of Nasal Congestion - Stuffy Nose

Diseases and conditions that can cause nasal congestion, respectively:

Nasal Congestion and Its Causes
Nasal septum deviation

It is one of the most common causes. If the septum that divides the nasal cavity into two is curved to one side, it may cause nasal congestion as there will be insufficient air intake from the side of the curvature. In the treatment, the curved areas of cartilage in the nasal septum are surgically removed (septoplasty operation).

Turbinate hypertrophy

It is usually seen with septum deviation. Turbinates are responsible for the heating, purification and humidification of the air. When the volume of the nasal turbinates increases, airway resistance will increase and it may lead to nasal congestion. Today, turbinates are accepted as "organs" and only volume reduction applications are recommended in a minimal traumatic way. Surgical removal of turbinates or an abnormal volume reduction is not recommended as before.

Nasal valve problems

The air passage area under the nasal wings, just after the entrance of the nostril, is roughly called the "nasal valve zone". This region is the narrowest part of the nose where the airway resistance is the highest. Structural problems involving this area may cause nasal congestion as it will make air entry into the nose more difficult. Various cartilage grafts can be applied to expand the nasal valve region in treatment.


Nasal congestion may occur due to nasal mucosa, edema and discharge in the nasal concha in infections such as flu, cold, and sinusitis affecting the nasal area. Generally, local saline irrigation, measures for general body resistance and medical treatment are sufficient.

Allergic diseases

Allergic Rhinitis Attack Period Severe Nasal Congestion - Turbinate Hypertrophy - Nasal Congestion Blockage

Nasal congestion can be seen in diseases such as allergic rhinitis in which the nasal mucosa is edema and the discharge in the nose increases. Generally, local saline irrigation, measures for general body resistance and medical treatment are sufficient.

In the photo above, there is an image showing both nasal cavities of the patient, who was waiting without taking any precautions, although he had complaints compatible with allergic rhinitis. There is severe hypertrophy in both the inferior turbinates and it is seen that they are in contact with the nasal septum, the air passage is almost completely closed, the nasal mucosa is pale in color and there is a nearly transparent secretion. "R" is the marker for the right nasal cavity and "L" is the marker for the left nasal cavity. As a result of the patient's uncontrolled and untreated recurrent allergic rhinitis attacks, inflammation and edema in the mucosa of both nasal cavities resulted in severe nasal congestion. In the treatment of allergic rhinitis, "allergen avoidance", that is, preventing allergen contact, is the main effective way. It is a big mistake to wait for severe nasal congestion to become permanent and not pay attention to the precautions related to treatment or avoidance of allergen contact as much as possible. Only local cortisone spray, oral antihistamine tablet and leukotyrene receptor antagonist tablet treatment was started for this patient. If the treatment was not sufficient in the patient, systemic cortisone treatment and in case of treatment failure, turbinate radiofrequency reduction procedure was planned. It is appropriate for these patients to be followed up regularly by an allergist or otolaryngologist who deals with allergy.

Nasal polyps

Nasal polyps, which are generally seen in allergic or asthmatic people, may cause nasal congestion by closing the airways in the nose. Nasal polypectomy and endoscopic sinus surgery can be planned in patients with nasal congestion that does not improve with medical treatment. Generally, chronic sinusitis is also found in these patients.

Choanal atresia

Choanal atresia is a congenital anomaly, meaning that the holes between the nasal cavity and the nasal cavity, called "choana", are closed with a plate. Because it is bilateral, it can cause severe respiratory distress as soon as the baby is born. When it is unilateral, it may not be noticed until adulthood.

Tumors originating in the nose

In tumoral masses originating from the nose or sinuses, the area of ​​the airways will narrow, and the complaint of nasal congestion can be seen. Sometimes, nasal congestion may be the only symptom in patients with tumoral masses.

Foreign bodies in the nose

Especially in children, nasal congestion complaint can be seen due to the insertion of a foreign body in the nose. It manifests itself with a one-sided malodorous discharge. Sometimes they may appear as intranasal stones (nose stones / rhinoliths).

Adenoid hypertrophy

It is one of the most common causes of nasal congestion, especially in children. When the nasal flesh enlarges, the airway behind the nose will be closed and the complaint of nasal obstruction may occur.

Nasal Congestion Treatment

The treatment method varies according to the cause of nasal congestion. You can find more detailed information about the related diseases and conditions in the links on the right. Nasal congestion treatment is done according to the cause. First of all, the patient should be evaluated in detail and endoscopic nasal examination should be done. Medical treatment is usually applied primarily for reasons other than mass lesions.

Murat Enoz, MD, Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgeon - ENT Doctor in Istanbul

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