The nose is the primary organ of the body that provides smell and is also a part of the respiratory system that helps the body breathe. It filters dust, germs and irritants from the air before entering the body. It also warms and moistens the air to keep the lungs and tubes in the respiratory system from drying out. There are many conditions that can affect the nose.
Sinusitis is inflammation and swelling of the tissues that line the sinuses. This interferes with normal mucus drainage, leading to breathing difficulties, pain and pressure. When the condition persists for 12 weeks or longer, it is considered chronic.
A congested, stuffy nose is a nuisance that can affect your ability to smell, taste and breathe. It is one of the most common complaints, especially when it persists or is accompanied by nasal discharge. Congestion occurs when nasal tissues and blood vessels become swollen and inflamed. It has little to do with excess mucus, as many people believe. This swelling causes obstructed breathing.
When the bone and cartilage dividing a patient’s nasal cavity is off center or crooked, the condition is referred to as a deviated septum. If the deviation is serious enough, it can cause breathing difficulties and chronic sinus conditions that require treatment.
Though common and sometimes frightening, nosebleeds are rarely anything more than a nuisance. They are usually the result of minor irritations in the nasal passages, and most common in children younger than 10, or adults older than 50. When the membranes lining the inside of the nose dry out and become irritated, the blood vessels break, causing a nosebleed. These are more common in the winter months, when the air is cold and dry.
Commonly referred to as a broken nose, a nasal fracture is a break or crack in the bone in the patient’s nose. Contact with a fixed object, such as a door or wall can cause a break. Contact sports (like hockey and football) and motor vehicle accidents are common causes of a broken nose.
Rhinitis is similar to hay fever, but is caused by something other than an allergen. Dubbed non-allergic rhinitis to differentiate the two, it produces cold-like symptoms that can leave a patient feeling miserable and worn-down. It may take allergy testing to rule out hay fever and accurately diagnose non-allergic rhinitis.