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JAMA Otolaryngology Patient Page
March 26, 2020

Nasal Airway Obstruction Structure and Function

JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2020;146(5):512. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.0165

The structure of the nose is important for both the appearance of the face and nasal function. The nose and nasal passages are important for breathing, smelling, and for warming and filtering air.

Normal airflow through the nose should be unobstructed. When a blockage occurs, this obstructs airflow. Structural nasal blockage is most commonly caused by deviated cartilage and/or bone of the nasal septum, turbinate enlargement, or deformities of the cartilages around the nostrils. Structural issues can arise naturally or from trauma. Another reason for nasal obstruction is an inflammatory process that occurs in nasal mucosa (internal lining) of the nose. This inflammation can improve with topical or oral medications.

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