Feature Article

Nasal obstruction

Larry H. Kalish, Melville da Cruz



Patients commonly present with a blocked or ‘stuffy’ nose. There is a long list of differential diagnoses to consider but the symptom must be fully investigated because it may indicate the presence of a significant underlying problem.

Key Points

  • The nose is a conduit for airflow and a vital component in the filtration and humidification of air, in chemosensation and as part of the nasal reflex.
  • There is a broad range of differential diagnoses for nasal obstruction.
  • A diagnosis is usually made after taking a full patient history and conducting a physical examination.
  • A stepwise approach is required for the management of nasal obstruction.
  • Management starts with simple measures, progressing to increased medical management and then surgical intervention, if required.