We do not often think about our breathing until it becomes difficult. If you have found yourself struggling to breathe through either one or both of your nostrils, the likely cause could be nasal obstruction.

But what are the different types of nasal obstruction? And how can you remedy this and breathe easier?

Read on to find out.

What is nasal obstruction?

Nasal obstruction is when one or both nostrils become blocked. This is usually temporary, and often easily remedied ailment. However, some nasal obstructions can be congenital defects, and some even require surgery.

Causes of nasal obstruction

There are many varying causes and types of nasal obstruction. It can be caused by colds or sinus issues, a medication you are using, or maybe due to seasonal allergies. Most often with children, there may be a foreign object in the nostril causing the obstruction.

However, there are more serious types of nasal obstruction which may require the intervention of a doctor.

Some are congenital, such as choanal atresia. This is an issue you can be born with, which means that there is excess tissue built up in the nasal passage. This can result in it being significantly harder to breathe through your nose.

You may also have a deviated septum. The septum is the part of your nose that separates your nostrils. This little wall does an important job, but if it is crooked it can be more difficult to breathe. Other symptoms may include a runny nose that is not linked to a cold or allergies. Among other reasons for nasal congestion, this is an extremely common complaint.

Other reasons for nasal congestion can include nasal polyps, oversized adenoids, and inferior turbinate hypertrophy. This is when the bony parts of your nose are impacted by allergies, which can mean they swell up.

How to heal nasal obstruction

The eventual treatment of nasal obstruction will depend on which kind of obstruction you are suffering from. In order to diagnose you effectively, you will undergo tests such as an MRI, CT scan, or a lighted scope to see what exactly is going on.

If you suffer from an allergy or sinus issues, you may require a steroid-based nasal spray to bring down inflammation and allow you to breathe easier.

Surgical options

Should you suffer from a deviated septum or nasal polyps (which can occur due to repeated sinus infections, asthma, and cystic fibrosis), it is most likely that a doctor will recommend a surgical option for you. While medication may be offered for these issues, the more extreme they become, the more likely surgical intervention becomes.

With a deviated septum, a septoplasty will be used to help with your breathing.

When to see a specialist

If you have a cold or seasonal allergies, you can often ease these symptoms yourself at home, using over-the-counter medications. However, if you are suffering from nasal obstruction and there is no obvious cause, it is always worth seeing an ENT specialist

Nasal congestion can lead to significant facial pain, nose bleeds, trouble breathing and snoring that can disturb your sleep and put a serious dent in your quality of life. If this sounds like you, and no over-the-counter options are working, book in with a nose doctor to discuss your diagnosis and options going forward.