Introducing: Ask a Doctor
At UTHSC ENT, we understand that patients need clear, helpful answers to their questions. We also know that a flood of new information can be overwhelming.
That’s why our department’s introducing Ask a Doctor: an ongoing series of posts that tackle Frequently Asked Questions about common issues. We hope these articles give you a better understanding of your situation and an easy path to treatment.
First up: the deviated septum!
Prepared by: Dr. Anthony Sheyn, Pediatric ENT specialist
Nasal obstruction in children
Recently, we discussed the common issue of nasal obstruction in adults. Of course, children experience this problem.
Nasal obstruction can occur when the nasal passages are blocked or there is difficulty breathing through the nose. There are several causes in children that can lead to nasal obstruction.
Common causes of nasal obstruction
Mucous from viruses, colds or bacteria can fill the sinuses and cause inflammation of the tissue inside the nose, making it difficult to breathe.
Adenoids are found in the back of the nose and are a frequent source of infection and nasal obstruction. Adenoids can become enlarged after being infected and cause nasal obstruction long after an infection has cleared, leading to prolonged nasal obstruction or even sleep apnea.
Mucus can result from allergies caused by trees, grasses, pollens, and mold causing seasonal or year-round nasal obstruction. This is a very common cause of nasal obstruction in children in the Memphis area.
Enlarged Nasal Turbinates:
The turbinates are bones found along the sides of the nose that can enlarge in response to allergic rhinitis or other inflammatory conditions. Sometimes they can shrink with the use of medication and sometimes they need to be decreased in size with simple surgical procedures.
Polyps are fluid-filled sacks within the nasal cavity that can occur in relation to poorly controlled allergies (also very common in Memphis) or in diseases such as cystic fibrosis.
Choanal Atresia/Pyriform Aperture Stenosis:
Choanal atresia occurs when the back of the nose fails to open up when a baby is born resulting in significant difficulty breathing in newborns. It can occur on one or both sides of the nose. When occurring on both sides it is considered a medical emergency. If it occurs on only one side, it may not be identified until later in life when a child has multiple sinus infections. Pyriform aperture stenosis describes narrowing of the nose at the front.
Nasal obstruction can also occur from the development of a cyst, a benign, or a malignant tumor that develops in the nose. This type of obstruction usually requires a team of doctors to treat appropriately.
Deviated Nasal Septum:
The two sides of the nose are separated by a piece of cartilage called the septum. The septum can become pushed to one side by a variety of reasons including: difficult delivery during birth, car accidents and sporting accident. If significant obstruction is present and does not respond to medication it may lead to nasal obstruction.
Deviated Septum & Septoplasty in Children
Depending on the cause of nasal obstruction the symptoms may be different. Newborns only breathe through their nose for the first several months of life and obstruction can lead to a life threatening emergency. Nasal obstruction can also impact quality of life, concentration, school performance, and sleep. Nasal polyps, if left untreated, will continue to grow and can potentially widen the nose and lead to other changes to the face.
Rarely, nasal tumors can grow and lead to life threatening conditions if left untreated. A proper evaluation by a fellowship trained Pediatric Otolaryngologist can help determine the cause of nasal obstruction and develop an appropriate treatment plan for your child.
How can our Dream Team help?
Our pediatric specialist, Dr. Anthony Sheyn, has wide-ranging experience in treating children with all forms of nasal obstruction. If you have concerns about your child please contact our offices to schedule an evaluation: 901-287-7337