Blocked Nose & Post Nasal Drip

The Nose functions as an air purifying and humidifying machine. The nasal passages is lined with mucous membrane which produces mucus. The mucus trap most of the air pollutants, virus and bacteria that enter the nose. The trapped particles are then swept by fine hair cellRs called cilia and expelled from the nose. At the same the air is humidified. So air that enters the lung is cleaned and moist.

A blocked nose can be described by different terms. It could be a blocked nose, a nasal congestion or stuffy nose. Many nasal conditions can cause the blocked nose, the congested nose and the stuffy nose. Blocked nose treatment to relieve stuffy nose depends on the underlying cause.

Let’s examine the causes of a blocked nose. stuffy nose and nasal congestion.

Common Cold

If you suffer from a common cold which is viral infection of the nose and throat (the upper respiratory tract). The lining of the nose becomes swollen and nasal congestion takes place. Excessive mucus takes place and the nose start to run. A runny nose takes place if the mucus comes out from the nose. if it flows backwards, this becomes a post nasal drip. The mucus and the swelling leads to a stuffy nose and a blocked nose.

  • The symptoms include
  • Nasal congestion and blocked nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Cough (this can be triggered by a post nasal drip or itch)
  • Mild Body ache and occasional headache
  • Fever – uncommon
  • Feeling unwell (Malaise)

Flu

Flu symptoms are worse than a common cold. They are caused by the influenza virus. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the differences between a cold and a flu. Special tests may be required.

Like the common cold, there is nasal congestion, stuffy nose, blocked nose and post nasal drip. This tends to be less than the common cold.  Fevers, chills and body ache are more pronounced and the individual feels worse. Cough and chest congestion is also more pronounced.

Blocked nose treatment to relieve stuffy nose is generally symptomatic. Antiviral medication can be used in influenza in the elderly and immunocompromised.

Symptomatic treatment for Common Cold and Flu includes antihistamine and decongestant which can relieve stuffy nose, reduce nasal congestion and be a blocked nose treatment. Treatment with fever and cough medicine are also complementary.

Structural cause: Deviated Nasal Septum, Hypertrophy turbinates

The nose is divided by the nasal septum into 2 haves.On the side of the nose are 3 pairs of turbinates. The septum can be deviated at birth or from trauma sustained over time. This results in the narrowing of the nasal space. Together with inflammation and allergy which can cause the turbinates to swell. This leads to a stuffy nose.

Medication can reduce the size of the turbinates. The type of medication will depend on the underlying cause. If despite medication, the blocked nose and nasal congestion is still present, surgical treatment may be an option. This will straighten the nasal septum (Septoplasty) and reduce the size of the turbinates (turbinoplasty). Dr Y T Pang our ENT specialist uses the technique of coblation turbinate reduction  to improve the air way. This can be performed under local anaesthesia in the clinic. For septoplasty, general anaesthesia is required.

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is the inflammation of the nose caused by allergy. The triggering allergens can be environmental or food related, The symptoms are blocked nose, runny nose, itchy nose, post nasal drip and sneezing. The eyes and throat can also be affected typically by itch or redness. In certain individuals, they may also have concurrent eczema and asthma.

Identification of the allergens trigger and avoidance can reduce nasal congestion, relieve stuffy nose and helps in blocked nose treatment. If this is not sufficient, antihistamine with or without decongestant and certain nasal spray can help reduce symptoms of nasal congestion, relieve stuffy nose and post nasal drip.

Long term treatment of immunotherapy is useful in suitable individuals. This works like a vaccine to immunise  or desensitise the individual to his allergen.

Nasal Polyps

Nasal Polyps are commonest growth in the nose. These are not cancerous in the majority and can cause symptoms of blocked nose, post nasal drip, decrease sense of smell and cough.

Treatment include medication to reduce the size of the polyps and treat associated infection

Surgery such as endoscopic sinus surgery, Computer guided Surgery and new techniques like Balloon Sinuplasty may be required to remove the nasal polyps with quick recovery.

Sinusitis

Sinusitis is the infection of the sinuses. We have 4 pairs of sinuses. The initiating event is usually a common cold or flu. This then lead on to a bacteria infection of the sinus when the bacteria gets trapped in the sinuses

The symptoms include blocked nose, post nasal drip, cough, decrease smell, nasal congestion, facial pain and stuffy nose. Cough then to be more prominent on lying down when the post nasal drip is more significant. Fever tends to affect acute sinusitis but low grade fever is more common in chronic sinusitis.

Treatment is directed at the infection. Blocked nose treatment includes nasal douching, suction, antibiotics and antihistamine.

In chronic sinusitis, Endoscopic Sinus surgery, Computer guided Surgery and new techniques like Balloon Sinuplasty can bring about quick relief.

Contact Dr YT Pang at the Centre for Ear Nose Throat Allergy & Snoring for a discussion on post nasal drip, nasal congestion and blocked nose treatment to relieve stuffy nose.