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MUSC Health Sinus Center Tackles Nasal Congestion & Obstruction

Advance With MUSC Health
November 04, 2019

At least once a year everyone is plagued with a stuffy nose. Suffering from nasal congestion can not only be uncomfortable, but extremely annoying. This “plugged-up” feeling can affect your sleeping and breathing, as well as your sense of smell and taste.

But what exactly is nasal congestion and what causes this unpleasant feeling?

Nasal congestion is due to the swelling of blood vessels in the nasal lining. This inflammation causes the nasal passages to shrink, decreasing the amount of air that can travel in and out making it difficult to breathe and smell. There are many things that can trigger inflammation in the nose, such as viral or bacterial infections, polyps, allergies, pollution, smoking, medications and various medical conditions. Nasal congestion caused by inflammation can be best treated with antibiotics, decongestants and antihistamines.

MUSC health is also conducting clinical research on a new device to relieve nasal congestion. This device delivers acoustic energy (sound waves) into the nasal cavity, to improve both nasal congestion and drainage. This exciting device may allow patients to get relief while avoiding medications and surgery.

When this stuffed-up feeling seems more severe and won’t go away with time or medication, patients may be suffering from nasal obstruction caused by structural abnormalities. Nasal obstruction occurs when bone or cartilage in the nose is anatomically incorrect and causes blockage throughout the airway. Those who suffer from nasal obstruction may have a deviated septum, enlarged turbinates, enlarged tonsils, nasal deformities, tumors, or congenital problems. Unlike congestion that is caused by inflammation, nasal obstruction cannot be treated by medication and will usually require surgery to be treated.

When a patient comes to MUSC Health Sinus Center with nasal obstruction as a result of an extreme deviated septum, the medical team will recommend an operation called a septoplasty.

In this operation, the surgeon makes small incisions inside the nose to straighten or remove the deviated cartilage or bone by lifting the lining of the nasal passage. Once the bone or cartilage is corrected, the lining is returned to its original position and is held with soft plastic splints or absorbable suture material. Patients are put under general anesthesia for the surgery and can be sent home on the same day.

Learn more about nasal congestion and nasal obstruction, and how MUSC Health may be able to help or schedule an appointment at MUSC Health Sinus Center. 

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Keywords: Ear Nose and Throat