What Is a Nasal Airway Obstruction? Here’s What You Need to Know

A nasal airway obstruction (NAO) is a medical condition in which a nasal passage is blocked. In this instance, a nasal obstruction can be exceedingly difficult to breathe through the nose. An NAO can also make it tough to speak, eat, and sleep.

At the CENTER for Advanced Facial Plastic Surgery in Los Angeles, Dr. Babak Azizzadeh can treat an NAO and other issues that hamper the nasal function. Dr. Azizzadeh is globally recognized for his facial plastic and reconstructive surgery and head and neck surgery expertise.

To date, Dr. Azizzadeh has performed many NAO procedures. He understands the symptoms associated with an NAO and can help patients determine the root cause of the issue. Additionally, Dr. Azizzadeh can identify a safe, effective way to treat an NAO.

Nasal Airway Obstruction Symptoms

Common nasal airway obstruction symptoms include:

    • Stuffy nose
    • Nasal congestion
    • Difficulty breathing through the nose
    • Trouble sleeping and/or getting sufficient air through the nose during exercise or other physical activities

People who experience one or more of the aforementioned NAO symptoms should seek medical support. Remember, the symptoms of an NAO may seem minor at first, but they can escalate over time. NAO symptoms won’t disappear on their own, either. On the other hand, Dr. Azizzadeh is happy to meet with a patient and evaluate their NAO symptoms. He can also learn about a patient, find out how long these symptoms have been occurring, and determine how an NAO happened.

Nasal Airway Obstruction Risk Factors

Risk factors commonly associated with NAOs include:

    • History of atopy (genetic tendency to develop asthma, eczema, or other allergic diseases)
    • Recurrent sinus infection (sinusitis)
    • Nose trauma
    • Nose surgery
    • Prolonged exposure to poor air quality

NAOs also have been linked to obstructive sleep apnea.

Will Nasal Airway Obstruction Symptoms Cause Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when a person’s throat muscles relax during sleep, to the point where they block the airway. In this instance, an individual can be susceptible to any of the following symptoms:

    • Loud snoring
    • Waking up with a dry mouth and/or sore threat
    • Depression
    • Irritability
    • High blood pressure

Research indicates nasal surgery can improve sleep quality in patients dealing with mild obstructive sleep apnea and septal deviation. However, surgery won’t necessarily cure obstructive sleep apnea and septal deviation. And, additional research is required to determine the extent of the relationship between a nasal airway obstruction and obstructive sleep apnea.

What to Do at the First Sign of Nasal Airway Obstruction Symptoms

Meeting with an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor is key if any nasal airway obstruction symptoms crop up. Then, the doctor can perform appropriate testing to determine why these symptoms are occurring. If the doctor determines there is a nasal airway obstruction, he or she can craft a safe, effective treatment plan for their patient.

Dr. Azizzadeh possesses extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of NAOs and other ear, nose, and throat issues. He can evaluate a patient who is dealing with NAO symptoms and determine the best course of action to treat them.

What Causes a Nasal Airway Obstruction?

Nasal structure blockages can cause an obstruction of the nasal airway. These blockages can affect three areas of the nose:


The septum refers to the cartilage between the nostrils. If the septum becomes displaced on one side, one nasal passage can become smaller than the other; this condition is referred to as a deviated septum. If a deviated septum is severe, one side of the nose can be blocked. Also, people dealing with a deviated septum and swelling of the nasal tissue may experience an NAO.


Turbinates are nose structures that cleanse and humidify air as it moves from the nostrils into the lungs. They can become inflamed due to allergies, infection, or irritation. In any of these instances, people may experience an NAO, along with excess mucous that results in congestion.

Lateral Wall

The lateral wall of the nose helps humidify and filter air. If the lateral wall’s upper or lower cartilage becomes too weak, the wall may collapse inward when people inhale.

In addition to structural blockages in these areas of the nose, people may experience an NAO due to hormonal changes, allergies, a broken or fractured nose, and environmental irritants. There may be times when multiple factors contribute to a patient’s NAO, too.

Regardless of why an NAO occurs, it is crucial to pursue medical treatment. Thanks to Dr. Azizzadeh, a patient coping with NAO symptoms can immediately diagnose and treat these issues.

How Is a Nasal Airway Obstruction Diagnosed?

Initially, Dr. Azizzadeh examines a patient and learns about their NAO symptoms. He looks inside a patient’s nose and may try to spread the nostrils. Dr. Azizzadeh may also assess his patient’s nasal tissue before and after applying a decongestant spray.

Dr. Azizzadeh may conduct additional testing depending on the severity of his patient’s NAO symptoms. For example, if a patient is dealing with a nasal fracture, Dr. Azizzadeh may perform an X-ray, CT scan, or other imaging tests that provide insights into the severity of the problem.

If Dr. Azizzadeh confirms a patient is dealing with an NAO, he offers a custom treatment. Dr. Azizzadeh explains the treatment to his patient, and he explains the benefits and risks associated with it.

At-Home Treatments for Nasal Airway Obstruction Symptoms: What Options Are Available, and Are They Effective?

Nighttime breathing strips and nasal sprays and dilators may be used to address nasal congestion. These at-home treatments may provide short-term relief for an NAO. But, they are unlikely to provide permanent results.

In the event that someone may be dealing with an NAO, it pays to consult with an ENT doctor. From here, the doctor can perform assessments of their patient’s ears, nose, and throat and evaluate the severity of their symptoms. The doctor next can provide their patient with a treatment designed to deliver long-lasting results. Also, the doctor can monitor their patient’s progress throughout the course of their treatment and help him or her permanently alleviate their NAO symptoms.

What Are the Best Nasal Airway Obstruction Treatment Options?

Septoplasty is a commonly used nasal airway obstruction surgery to treat an NAO. During this surgical procedure, Dr. Azizzadeh straightens and repositions the septum. At the same time, Dr. Azizzadeh may replace nasal cartilage or bone. He may also cut or remove portions of the septum and reinsert them into the proper position.

For patients who are considering NAO treatment options, it is important to note that a septoplasty differs from a rhinoplasty procedure. Whereas a septoplasty is used to correct an NAO, a nose job is a cosmetic procedure used to enhance facial symmetry and correct birth defects. The procedure helps patients achieve a harmonious facial appearance and ensure that the nose both functions properly and is aesthetically appealing.

Dr. Azizzadeh closely evaluates his patients, so he can accurately diagnose them. He takes an in-depth approach to NAOs, and he ensures that a patient can undergo the proper treatment to correct their nasal obstruction. Dr. Azizzadeh also helps his patients maximize the results of an NAO treatment.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Nasal Airway Obstruction Surgery?

It may take a patient a few weeks to recover from nasal airway obstruction surgery to correct an NAO. In the weeks following surgery, Dr. Azizzadeh recommends a patient avoid strenuous activity. Furthermore, Dr. Azizzadeh asks a patient to keep the head elevated when sleeping, avoid blowing the nose, and take other precautions to minimize the risk of complications.

The full results of nasal airway obstruction surgery usually become transparent within about three to six months. If patients experience any pain, discomfort, or other unwanted side effects during the recovery period or fail to achieve the full results of treatment, let Dr. Azizzadeh know. At this time, Dr. Azizzadeh can evaluate the patient and determine the best course of action.

Dr. Azizzadeh requests follow-up appointments in the weeks following an NAO surgery as well. These appointments allow Dr. Azizzadeh to track his patient’s progress after surgery. They also give the patient an opportunity to share their recovery concerns or questions.

Explore Nasal Airway Obstruction Treatment Options with Dr. Azizzadeh

An NAO can be problematic, but Dr. Azizzadeh is available to help patients treat this issue before it gets out of hand. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh, please contact us online or call us today at 310-657-2203.

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh Today

Dr. Azizzadeh offers in-person and virtual consultations to people who are considering a cosmetic procedure. To find out more, please contact us today at 310-657-2203 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh.

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