Symptoms and causes

Symptoms and causes

What is it?

Nasal obstruction is the inability to breathe properly through the nose: on the left, right or on both sides.

Usually a nasal obstruction is present for a short period of time, for example, during a cold. If nasal congestion persists for a prolonged period, further check-ups are recommended.


Chronic nasal obstruction can be due to various causes:

  • anatomical anomalies: misalignment of the nasal septum, large nasal conchae, a narrow nose
  • swelling of the mucous membranes: allergy, hypersensitivity of the mucous membrane to non-allergic stimuli, medication, sinusitis...
  • obstruction due to nasal polyps
  • oversized adenoids
  • benign and malignant tumours
  • medicinal rhinitis: this is caused by prolonged usage of fast-acting decongestant nasal drops. After administering the drops, the nasal breathing will initially be free, but then there will be a rebound effect. You will get the opposite effect where your nose becomes congested due to the use of nose drops. This kicks off a vicious cycle where people become dependent on nose drops. That is why fast-acting nose drops should not be used for longer than one week.

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis and treatment

The physician will examine your nose using a headlamp and an endoscope. Sometimes additional testing is necessary, such as a nasal breathing test, allergy tests and a scanner.

The treatment of a nasal obstruction varies greatly and depends on the severity and cause. Your physician will discuss the most appropriate treatment with you.

The treatment may consist of:

  • nasal rinses
  • nasal spray
  • antibiotics or other medication
  • surgical treatment

Treatment centres and specialisations

Treatment centres and specialisations
Ear, nose, and throat diseases (ENT)

Latest publication date: 29/08/2023
Supervising author: Dr. Vermeiren Judith