In the previous article, we discuss the impact of a blocked nose and how many of us may not be aware we are blocked nor the health implications. So what can we do?
For any blocked nose, there are two components. Firstly a reversible component that is usually due to the congestion of the nasal lining. Secondly there is a non-reversible component due to a bent septum or excessive tissue that has built up over time and has become non-reversible. These may exist in isolation by themselves, or co-exist and collaborating together to narrow the nasal airway to the detriment of your health.
Saline nose douching, topical steroid sprays and antihistamines as well as rest can reduce the reversible component of the blocked nose. When we are stressed and do not have enough sleep, our nasal vessels are more likely to be congested. In individuals with only allergy related blockage, this is very effective treatment, which is usually required seasonally, or long term for as long as the offending allergen/s is in your environment e.g. house dust, molds, pollens, etc. A good regimen of care will also reduce the severity of the other down line impacts of a congested nose e.g. sinusitis, mouth breathing and sore throats. In some case with headaches, the reduction in contact between the internal nasal tissues as well as reduced congestion and re-venting of the sinuses also reduces or abolishes these headaches.
However even after a trial of medical treatment, you may still find your nose blocked, and the treatment only partially effective. An endoscopic examination of the nose with possible imaging of the sinuses may declare that the obstruction is substantial due to pre-existing anatomical changes in the nose. The septum may be bent, the nasal lining now too swollen and thickened, nasal polyps may have formed which no longer can be reduced and/or the sinuses are chronically infected, and their openings now are too blocked for medical treatment to reverse the condition. Under these conditions, together with a clear history of symptoms and signs, surgery may be the solution. Surgery may include straightening the septum, reducing the turbinate size, removing the nasal polyps, re-venting the sinus openings and rinsing out the sinuses, or any of these combinations. Essentially the aim is to undertake whatever is necessary to improve the nasal airway and to permit natural re-venting of the sinuses.
So we can now breathe better after surgery and our overall health and sleep has improved. But does it end with surgery? Our environment usually remains the same; there is house dust, molds and pollens around us still. Some of us are still going to require saline irrigation of the nose and nasal sprays for the allergic flare-ups. Well funnily enough, opening the nasal airway by surgery does not only just improve airflow, it also improves the access for delivery of saline during nasal douching, and drug delivery via nasal sprays. That is the bad news. The good news is that most of us do not require long-term medical treatment… and all of us will live and sleep better now that the nose breathes better.