Nasal Obstruction

What is Nasal Obstruction?

Nasal obstruction or nasal blockage occurs when the airflow through the nasal cavity is impeded, and it can affect one or both nostrils. It can be temporary and caused by an allergy or sinus infection, for example, or it can be a chronic condition and may require surgical intervention.

Typically, we should breathe through the nose, but a nasal obstruction forces us to mouth breath. During sleep, this creates pressure on the soft palate and uvula, which can result in snoring and impaired sleep.

Frequently asked questions

Fluctuating causes include:

  • Sinusitis
  • Allergic rhinitis, such as hay fever
  • Environmental irritants, such as smoke or dust
  • Cold or flu
  • Certain medications, such as high-blood pressure medicine

Chronic nasal obstruction can be caused:

  • Nasal polyps which are benign growths within the nasal cavity
  • Deviated nasal septum
  • Enlarged turbinates, bony structures within the nasal cavity
  • Enlarged adenoids
  • Nasal tumours, either benign or cancerous
  • Snoring
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Fatigue
  • Depression or change in mood
  • Decreased productivity
  • Impact on quality of life

Treatment of nasal obstruction is dependent on the underlying cause. Conditions that cause fluctuating nasal obstruction such as allergic rhinitis require medical treatment to treatment the underlying causes.  Structural causes of chronic nasal obstruction, such as a deviated nasal septum, require surgical correction to improve nasal breathing. Sometimes there can be multiple causes of nasal obstruction that require both medical and surgical treatment combined.

It is essential that a thorough assessment is performed to ensure that the correct cause is identified and therefore the necessary treatment is given.

Mr Annakan Navaratnam


Mr Annakan Navaratnam

Annakan Navaratnam is Consultant Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) Surgeon whose private practice is based at Harrow and One Welbeck Hospital in Central London and The Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow. In his NHS practice, he works at Royal National ENT Hospital, University College London Hospital (UCLH) and is an honorary consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

He has a subspeciality interest in rhinology and facial plastic surgery with particular expertise in septorhinoplasty and nose reshaping surgery.

Annakan is excellently placed to manage general adult and paediatric ENT presentations and in particular is able to assess and treat complex problems related to the form and function of the nose. This includes endonasal (scarless) rhinoplasty, revision septorhinoplasty as well as advanced endoscopic sinus surgery.