A feeling of a runny or “stuffy” nose is called nasal congestion. This can occur all the time or for recurrent, shorter periods of time. Patients often note having to blow or clear their noses frequently (some to the point where their nostrils are red and irritated all the time). Often there is an associated postnasal drip or cough. The nasal congestion can be all year round or seasonal and is often associated with nasal obstruction symptoms.
SYMPTOMS: Sensation of a “stuffy”, clogged or runny nose, clear or colored drainage from the nose, sneezing, decreased sense of smell, sinus pressure, headaches, postnasal drip, difficulty breathing from your nose, nosebleeds, scratchy or irritated nose, crusting of the nose.
CAUSES: Allergies, sinus infections, nasal irritants, medications, turbinate hypertrophy, deviated septum, nasal blockage, polyps and acid reflux.
DIAGNOSIS: Nasal congestion is diagnosed from a patient’s history and a good physical exam of the nose and sinus passages. Nasal Endoscopy is a diagnostic tool used to get a clear and thorough visualization of the inner nose and structures. A great way to make the diagnosis is to spray a nasal decongestant into the nose both before and after Nasal Endoscopy. If allergies are suspected as the cause of nasal congestion, then Allergy Testing can be done in the office. If other rarer causes of congestion are being considered (such as a CSF leak) CT scan or MRI can be done.
TREATMENT: Initial treatment is medical and includes the use of medicated nasal sprays to try and improve the hypertrophy. Allergies should also be fully treated. Nasal saline rinses can also be used to help keep the nasal passages clear. If the medical treatment is not successful, then a CT Scan can be performed to see if a Turbinoplasty can provide a long-term solution for the problem. A new and effective treatment is Cryoablation of the posterior nasal tissues that are causing the congestion. Acid reflux can also be a common cause and should not be overlooked or underestimated in treating a patient’s symptoms.