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Stuffiness and runny nose: how to breathe freely?

The way you breathe determines the quality of your life. A good sense of smell allows you to enjoy the aromas of food, perfumes and nature. The feeling of fullness of taste is not the only important function of the nose. The nose is an organ of the respiratory system that provides oxygen supply and the removal of carbon dioxide, which is necessary for the normal operation of all organs. Before air enters the lungs, it passes through the nose, where it is filtered, cleaned of microparticles of dust, warmed and moistened. In addition, nasal breathing affects the voice, giving it a unique timbre and sonority. In this article, we will tell you how to restore normal breathing and in which cases surgery on the nasal mucosa may be necessary.

Published at

June 4, 2024

Is breathing through your mouth the norm?

Breathing through the mouth is often a temporary solution for nasal congestion or during intense physical exertion when more air is needed. However, constant breathing through the mouth can lead to dry mouth and throat, deterioration of teeth, excessive loss of moisture and heat, as well as an increased risk of infections and respiratory diseases.

Why do I need to breathe through my nose?

Protection against infections. The nostrils and sinuses filter and heat the inhaled air, and also release nitric oxide, which has bactericidal properties. This gas destroys dangerous bacteria and dilates blood vessels, improving blood circulation and increasing oxygen uptake.

Improvement of blood circulation in the lungs. Nitric oxide dilates the vessels of the lungs, which increases the surface area of the alveoli, which are responsible for oxygen absorption, and improves oxygen absorption when breathing through the nose.

Maintaining a healthy body temperature. About a third of the exhaled heat and moisture is released through the nose, which helps maintain a normal body temperature.

Improvement of brain functions. Nasal breathing affects the activity of the hypothalamus, which controls many automatic body functions such as heartbeat, blood pressure and hunger. It is also associated with the activity of different hemispheres of the brain, which can improve verbal functions and spatial thinking.

Benefits during training. Nasal breathing helps regulate airflow, reduce blood pressure and stress levels, which is especially important during physical activity.

Why are there problems with breathing through the nose?

Difficult nasal breathing can be caused not only by diseases. Acute viral infections, rhinitis, sinusitis and related complications, including problems with hearing organs, often become reasons to consult a doctor.  However, even healthy patients sometimes complain of problems with nasal breathing: nasal congestion in the morning, snoring during sleep, frequent runny nose. Some people have been using vasoconstrictor drops for years and believe that they cannot breathe normally without them. The causes of nasal breathing difficulties may be as follows: 

  • Polyps in the nasal cavity

  • Atrophy of the mucous membrane

  • Chronic hypertrophied rhinitis

  • Injuries or curvature of the nasal septum

  • Foreign bodies or tumors in the nasal cavity

Methods of diagnosing nasal breathing disorders in Olympus Clinics

The first stage is a physical examination. Our specialists listen to the patient's complaints and inspect the nasal cavity.

Then additional examinations are prescribed:

  1. Rhinoscopy: Examination of the nasal cavity using a rhinoscope, a special instrument with a mirror that allows you to assess the condition of the nasal passages and mucous membrane.

  2. Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): These methods allow you to obtain detailed images of the nasal cavity and surrounding tissues to identify possible problems such as septum deformities or polyps.

  3. Rhinomanometry: This test evaluates the resistance and volume of nasal breathing at various levels of air pressure. It allows you to determine the degree of nasal congestion and identify possible causes of respiratory disorders.

  4. Allergy tests: Performed when allergic rhinitis is suspected to detect allergies.

Conservative treatment of nasal breathing

After the diagnosis, the ENT doctor will tell you about the methods of treatment. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment may be conservative or surgical.

If the patient is diagnosed with rhinitis, inflammation of the sinuses or other infectious or inflammatory disease, the doctor prescribes conservative treatment.

What can an otorhinolaryngologist prescribe?

  • Vasoconstrictive medications: help reduce mucosal edema and facilitate breathing.

  • Antimicrobial drugs: used to fight infection.

  • Decongestant drugs: reduce inflammation and swelling.

  • Mucolytics and other means: normalize the production and drainage of mucus.

To relieve nasal congestion, the doctor may prescribe a combination of medications. Treatment regimens in Olympus Clinics are made up personally. Specialists select drugs and their dosage taking into account the characteristics of the patient's health.

In addition, physical therapy may be prescribed to eliminate nasal congestion. UV therapy and UHF therapy are suitable for the treatment of chronic rhinitis and help to quickly restore normal breathing. A course of three to seven procedures helps to normalize the condition of the mucous membrane and respiratory function.

And when are surgical methods used?

Surgical intervention may be required in cases where conservative treatment does not bring the desired result. One such technique is vasotomy, which is designed to improve nasal breathing by removing or reducing the size of blood vessels in the nasal cavity. 

And there is also a more gentle method of surgery — laser vasotomy. Surgery takes 20-30 minutes, is painless, and the rehabilitation period takes 7-10 days. 

Indications for vasotomy: 

  • Chronic runny nose: Persistent nasal congestion that does not respond to conservative treatment.

  • Rhinitis: Chronic inflammation of the nasal mucosa, leading to frequent runny nose and difficulty breathing.

  • Nasal polyps: Polyps that interfere with normal breathing and are not amenable to medical treatment.

  • Allergic rhinitis: When conservative methods do not help to ease breathing.

  • Migraine and headaches: Vasotomy may be recommended for the treatment of migraines and headaches associated with vasodilation in the nose.


In case of curvature of the nasal septum, doctors usually recommend septoplasty. This operation is aimed at restoring the correct anatomy of the nose, which allows you to eliminate congestion and restore normal breathing. Surgical access to bone tissues is carried out through an incision inside the nasal cavity, so no external traces remain.

Combined operations

If the patient is concerned about the appearance of the nose in addition to difficulty breathing, a combination of operations can be performed: septoplasty and rhinoplasty. This allows you to restore the anatomy of the septum, change the shape of the nose and eliminate aesthetic imperfections.

At Olympus Clinics, many plastic surgeons are candidates of medical sciences, doctors of the highest category and narrow specialists in nasal surgery. They are well versed in the anatomy of the nose and the physiology of respiration, providing high quality treatment to our patients.

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