Nasal Airway Obstruction

What is nasal airway obstruction?

Nasal airway obstruction is a condition in which the nasal passages are blocked and prevent a normal or comfortable amount of air from passing through the nose. Nasal airway obstruction affects more than 20 million Americans1 and can occur because of a structural abnormality in the nose or because of inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages. With nasal breathing delivering approximately 70% of airflow to the lungs,2 any blockage that limits airflow can cause significant quality-of-life consequences.3

What are the treatment options for nasal airway obstruction?

The ENT specialists with Quincy Medical Group’s Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) department can evaluate your symptoms and help best determine the right treatment plan for you. Two possible treatments are the VivAer® procedure or a LATERA® nasal implant.

VivAer® Procedure

LATERA® Nasal Implant

Are you experiencing nasal airway obstruction?

You may have nasal airway obstruction if you have difficulty breathing through one side or both sides of your nose during normal activities or while sleeping. In addition, you may have difficulty sleeping, snore while sleeping, and frequently breathe through your mouth during exercise or exertion. You can take the simple Cottle test to determine if you may be experiencing nasal airway obstruction.

To find out how your breathing symptoms are affecting your quality of life, take the Nasal Obstruction Symptom Evaluation (NOSE) survey. After you take the NOSE survey, schedule an appointment with one of our ENT specialists at the Quincy Medical Group Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) department to discuss your symptoms and treatment options.

Try the Cottle Test

  1. Place two fingertips on your cheeks, on the sides of your nose.
  2. Gently press and pull outward to further open your nasal passage. While holding, breathe through your nose.
If your breathing improves, then you may be suffering from nasal airway obstruction.

What are the causes?

Even a slight narrowing of the nasal valve can lead to significant reduction in airflow.4-6  Structural blockages in 3 areas are common:

  • Septum: The cartilage wall between the nostrils can bend and block the nasal passage.

  • Turbinates: Ridges of bone and tissue inside the nose can limit airflow when enlarged.

  • Lateral (side) wall: Weak or excessively flexible upper/lower cartilage in the outer nasal wall may cause it to collapse inward when a person inhales.

Schedule an Appointment with QMG’s ENT Department
Call (217) 222-6550, ext. 6900
1. Value calculated based on 2014 US population estimate from US Census and World Bank data in conjunction with incidence numbers cited in: Stewart M, Ferguson BJ, Fromer L. Epidemiology and burden of nasal congestion. Intl J Gen Med.2010;3:37-45.
2. Crawford-Brown DJ. Theoretical and Mathematical Foundations of Human Health Risk Analysis. Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers; 1997:103.
3. Rhee JS, Poetker DM, Smith TL, Bustillo A, Burzynski M, Davis RE. Nasal valve surgery improves disease-specific quality of life. Laryngoscope. March 2005;115(3):437-440.
4. Wever CC. The nasal airway: a critical review. Facial Plast Surg. 2016;32:17-21.
5. Camacho M, Riaz M, Capasso R, et al. The effect of nasal surgery on continuous positive airway pressure device use and therapeutic treatment pressures: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep. February 1, 2015;38(2):279-286.
6. Lin SJ, Danahey DG. Nasal aerodynamics. Medscape. Updated May 14, 2015.