Blocked Noses

Many people who snore do so because their noses are blocked.

This happens as a result of injury (broken nose), allergies causing turbinate enlargement or polyps, congenital smallness of the nose, high palate, deviated septum and other causes.

To explain how this works:

A blocked nose forces one to breathe through one's mouth, especially when asleep. When the mouth is open during snoring, the sound takes the path of least resistance, which is the mouth. The nose normally acts as a "muffler" to the sound, dulling the noise just like a muffler on a car. If your muffler drops off, or develops a leak, the sound is very much louder. If you make a snore noise right now with your mouth closed, and then repeat it with the mouth open, the volume of the same snore is much louder!

You may have a blocked nose if ...

  • Witnessed mouth breathing
  • Waking with a very dry throat, having to sip water during the night because the mouth is dry and really loud snoring.

Often it is only one nostril that is blocked, and in some, this will vary depending which side is lower on the pillow. Sneezing often denotes allergy especially if it occurs around the bedroom or on waking.

Hints for the blocked nose:

  • To see if your blocked nose is causing the loudness of snoring, use Drixine or Otrivine nasal spray for a few nights and see if the snoring improves. If it does, then perhaps the initial focus should be to unblock the nose. Unfortunately these two sprays are only advised for up to five days, as dependence and rebound congestion rapidly develop. They are useful to diagnose if the blocked nose is the main issue or not, and to get a patient through a brief blocked phase.
  • If sneezing is a frequent symptom on waking, this might suggest allergens on the pillow or bedding. If you think about it, putting your head down on a pillow which has been accumulating pollen, house dust mite, cat dander, or mould spores all day long, then spend the night vacuuming these up your nose, you will wake up blocked. Your nose will sneeze and run.

Pillow Hygiene:

Take the pillow outside, hang it on the clothes line, and belt it with a tennis racquet, change the pillow case, and keep the pillow covered all the time that your head is not on it...with the bedspread or decorative pillow. A large towel might do just fine. Of course, allergens can also come from blankets and sheets pulled up around the face.

Medical Treatments:

These are usually prescribed in New Zealand by a family doctor.

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They usually involve steroid nasal sprays, and sometimes require antibiotics, and occasionally Prednisone. Clearly the avoidance of allergens is the best approach.

Surgical Treatments:

These involve shrinking the turbinates surgically, opening up the airways. Sometimes a deviated septum will need straightening, or other operations to clear a blocked nose.

Surgery can be done in a limited way by your trained Snore-Op doctor.

This is done in exactly the same way as a palate snoring surgery, but is done in the nose. We have a way of measuring your blockage which we have developed at SnoreOp. To qualify for this additional surgery using Radio frequency, your Peak nasal Inspiratory Flow Rate (PNIFR) needs to be 45 litres per minute or less.

Make an appointment for assessment.

Referral to an ENT Specialist:
For very blocked noses, referral is wise, if things like allergy control and nasal sprays have not helped significantly. This surgery is very much more expensive than the SnoreOp version, requires admission to hospital, but does much more unblocking. We at SnoreOp refer these as appropriate to our excellent local Ear Nose and Throat surgeons.