Q: Dr. Eppley, I have a question about nasal airway obstruction surgery. I am a 25 year old female who ever since I can remember,I had difficulties breathing. My right nostril’s been doing almost all the job of breathing, while my left nostril had difficulties breathing and sometimes wouldn’t breathe at all, like it’s clogged. I thought it is a normal thing to do for a nose until recently someone told me that both nostrils are supposed to breathe at the equal intensity. I asked my mother if I ever broke my nose when I was a child, she said “no”. I recently found out from my father that I actually did fall on my face/nose more than once when I was six or seven years old (I vaguely recall the incident). He also told me that they never took me to see a doctor, although I had been bleeding from the nose, I had blue circles under the eyes and a swollen nose. As a result I am soon planing on getting my nose x-rayed to find out if it is broken or not. But even if it’s not broken, is there a way to enlarge nasal canals to make breathing easier (or maybe change the shape of the nose to help easier breathing)? I’ll greatly appreciate your response. Thank you for your time.
A: While nasal breathing may not always be completely equal between both sides of the nose, it is not normal to have a feeling of being completely blocked on one side. With your history and those symptoms, this strongly suggests that you do have an internal nasal obstruction either from a septal deviation, inferior turbinate hypertrophy, middle vault collapse or some combination from all of the above. While you can get an x-ray (CT scan) to see the complete anatomy of the internal nose, a good physical examination will can also make the diagnosis. Undoubtably some form of a septoplasty and inferior turbinate reduction may be beneficial at the least.
Dr. Barry Eppley