Many problems can make the nose that makes feel “stopped up.” Two of the most common are sinus infections and allergies. Please follow the links for more detail on each. In short, the nasal airway becomes blocked by draining mucus and swelling either from a sinus infection or from inflammation due to allergies.
The septum is the vertical wall that divides the nose into a right and left side. Sometimes, it does not grow straight and may bend to one or both sides – this is called a deviated septum. Trauma, including nasal fractures can also lead to a deviated septum. A deviated septum can be corrected with a simple out-patient surgery.
There are three pairs of vascular structures the inside of the nose called turbinates. These can block the nose due to their size, or may swell up due to allergies. Your body normally shifts blood flow from one side of your nose to the other throughout the day. Usually, this cycle is hardly noticeable. If you have large turbinates and/or a deviated septum, it can make your nose difficult to breathe through.
Growths in the nose may also block the airway. Polyps are overgrowths of the lining of the nose. These usually grow slowly over time and can block airflow. Polyps may also disrupt the sense of smell. Polyps are most often seen in people with long term allergy or sinus infections. Medicines, such as steroids, may be used to shrink or stunt the growth of polyps. If this approach does not work, polyps can be removed surgically.
Rarely, tumors can grow in the nose. Nasal endoscopes or CT scans are used to give your doctor a complete view of the structures of the nose and sinuses.