Common sinus condition causing a stuffy nose

Almost everyone has a bothersome stuffy nose at some point in their lives. Nasal congestion or “stuffiness” can occur by itself or in combination with other cold-like symptoms like a runny nose or mucous drainage in the throat.

Typically, this stuffy nose does not cause any long-term issues, but can be irritating. Short-term nasal congestion may occur with viral infections like a cold or allergies, and symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medications.

Long-term nasal blockages can be a little more complicated. If there is an underlying cause of stuffiness – such as allergies or sinusitis – then your physician might prescribe nasal steroid sprays, antihistamines or, in the case of sinusitis, antibiotics.

However, if those treatments fail, it’s time to see a nasal specialist for evaluation. Our otolaryngology team at Penn State Health will perform a detailed exam of your nose, looking for issues in the lining of the nose or the nose’s structure. Using a small endoscope, your otolaryngologist can examine the inside of your nose while sharing the images with you in real-time. We will determine the source of your problem and discuss effective treatment options.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Symptoms of nasal obstruction include:

  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Itchy eyes
  • Mucus dripping down the throat
  • Runny nose

Your physician will order a computed tomography (CT) scan to check for nasal polyps or other visible blockages to diagnose a nasal obstruction. Some patients may also receive allergy testing to help determine treatment options.

Patients with nasal obstruction typically can have their symptoms resolved with over-the-counter medicine. However, for more in-depth care, Penn State Health offers comprehensive otolaryngology services.

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Expert, Comprehensive Otolaryngology Care

The Penn State Health Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery has an expert team to manage the medical and surgical needs of nasal obstruction patients. Medical therapy options are used to manage sinusitis, allergies and rhinitis, which occurs when the nasal lining is irritated. Surgery might be recommended for patients with structural issues in the nose, such as a deviated septum. Patients with persistent sinusitis despite medical therapy are also potential candidates for surgery.

Our otolaryngology team offers multiple surgeries to give patients relief from nasal obstruction, including:

  • Endoscopic sinus surgery
  • LATERA® lateral nasal wall implants
  • Septoplasty
  • Septorhinoplasty
  • Turbinate reduction

Multidisciplinary, Leading-Edge Treatment Options

The otolaryngology experts at Penn State Health are committed to providing our patients with the most comprehensive ear, nose and throat care. We know that nasal obstructions can affect your daily activities. Our team works closely with patients to determine the cause of your issue and provide leading-edge treatment options.

When necessary, we will partner with other providers in allergy and immunology, ophthalmology, pulmonology, neurology and neurosurgery to provide the highest quality of care. We are also committed to furthering ear, nose and throat research and clinical trials in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine. To learn more about clinical trials available at Penn State Health, visit our StudyFinder.

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