Blocked Nose


A blocked or obstructed nose is a common problem. It may be the result of an injury or may simply be the way you were born. People with a blocked nose will typically have difficulty breathing through one or both nostrils.

The impact of a blocked nose is often underestimated. Those with nasal obstruction may experience poor quality sleep, snoring and in some cases Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). They often complain of a dry mouth after sleep.  Exercise can be impacted as people often feel unable to “get air in”. Other people may complain about the person’s “noisy breathing” especially when eating.


There are a few reasons why a person may have a blocked nose.

Physical obstruction due to structures of the nose is the most common reason. The cartilage and/or bone of the nose can be deviated into the nasal air passages leading to a blockage. At the front of the nose, there can be weakness in the cartilages of the nostrils leading to collapse of the airway, while at the back of the nose the adenoids may cause a blockage.

Diseases of the nose may also cause nasal obstruction. Common problems such as nasal allergies and nasal polyps can cause swellings of the nasal linings leading to blockage. Less commonly, tumours and growths within the nose may lead to a nasal blockage.


The most obvious symptom is a sense of nasal blockage or congestion. It can affect one or both sides and can have variable severity.

Other, less direct symptoms include:

  • Poor sleep.
  • Snoring and/or obstructive sleep apnoea.
  • Noisy breathing.
  • Mouth breathing.


A thorough discussion regarding the symptoms with Dr Morrissey will help to clarify the issue. Once the symptoms related to the nose are clearly understood, an examination of the nose will often identify the cause.


Tests for nasal obstruction can be useful in some cases. Scans will help to define the anatomy and confirm the structural issues. They also play a key role in surgical planning when it is needed.

Specific nasal airflow tests can be of use in some instances. Additional tests such as blood tests or biopsy may be needed to better define the problem in order to plan for its correction.


There are some problems that may benefit from the use of medications and saline nasal rinses, which act to clean the nose, remove irritants and reduce inflammation. People with allergies may benefit from specific treatments targeting the allergy.

Structural problems and some diseases such as nasal polyps may require an operation to improve the nasal airway and help correct the problem.

The particular solution will vary from person to person and will usually need to be tailored to their individual circumstances in order to obtain the most favourable result. A consultation with Dr Morrissey can help to answer the above questions should you have concerns regarding a blocked nose.

Related Information

Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (ESS)
Septoplasty and Turbinate reduction