Allergy, Nose & Sinus

Blocked nose – Top 3 reasons for a stuffy nose!

February 10, 2020
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Sensitive Nose


What is it?


The medical term for sensitive nose is called Rhinitis  which refers to inflammation of the nasal cavity. It can be “Allergic” (i.e. inflammation due to exposure to a particular allergen)  or “Non-Allergic” (i.e unknown trigger and is often due to exposure to cigarette smoke, perfumes or change or weather).



What are the symptoms?


Common symptoms include:


  • Clear runny nose
  • Blocked nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose and eyes
  • Postnasal drip



How do you treat it?


Avoidance of trigger: Most common culprit is House Dust Mite. Ensure that you wash your bedsheets and pillowcases weekly with hot water (at least 60 degrees Celsius high) to get rid of the Dust Mites!


Medications: Nasal steroid sprays, antihistamines and decongestants


Surgery: To relieve blocked nose, the inferior turbinate (sausage-like bony structure at the side wall of the nose) can be reduced in size





Nose Patholigies



What is it?


The nasal septum is a bony-cartilaginous wall that separates the nasal cavity into right and left sides. Most people have a little crookedness or bent in their nasal septum (born with it) but it can also be deviated after injuries to the nose. A bent or crooked septum is known as a deviated nasal septum.



What are the symptoms?


Most people with mild deviated nasal septum do not have any symptoms. However, when the crookedness or bent is severe, it can cause:


  • Blocked nose from physical blockage of one side or both sides of the nasal cavity
  • Frequent sinus infections – if the deviated septum obstructs the drainage pathway of the sinuses
  • Nosebleed – If there are prominent vessels that form on or behind the deviated septum (which may form due to a change in airflow to the nose from the deviated nasal septum)



What is the treatment?


No treatment is required if you do not have any symptoms. However, if you are symptomatic, the only way to correct a deviated nasal septum is through surgery. The surgery is called Septoplasty and is performed through the nose. There is no cut or wound on the external nose or face.







What is it?


Sinuses are air-filled hollow cavities or spaces surrounding your nasal cavity. We all have sinuses. They are part of our normal anatomy in our face. They produce mucous which drains into the nasal cavity. When the sinuses are blocked, the trapped mucous gets infected and there will be inflammation of the lining of the sinuses. This condition is called sinusitis. In some people, when the sinuses are inflamed for a long time (chronic), polyps (benign inflammatory outgrowths from the lining of the nose) can form.



What are the symptoms?


  • Coloured nose mucous (yellow, brown or green)
  • Blocked nose
  • Feeling of mucous stuck in the nose or face (congestion)
  • Pain in the face
  • Postnasal drip
  • Reduced sense of smell



What is the treatment?


Medications: In an acute infection, oral antibiotics, nasal wash (saline wash or douche) and nasal steroid sprays are usually required. If there are polyps present, a course of oral steroids may be given.


Surgery: Sinus surgery may be necessary if the sinus infection fails to respond to medical treatment, is frequent (e.g. more than 4 times a year) or is of a particular subtype (e.g. fungal sinusitis or allergic fungal sinusitis)








Nasal Spray Product


Many people are unaware that nasal decongestants, e.g. Afrin, Iliadin, Nazolin are not meant to be used for longer than 1 week. Chronic users of these decongestant will become refractory to it. Decongestant abuse can cause rebound swelling and inflammation in the nasal cavity (a condition is called Rhinitis Medicantosa). Treatment includes immediate cessation of the nasal decongestant and the use of nasal steroid sprays and saline sprays/nasal wash.





Blocked Nose



Fortunately, this is a rarer cause of blocked nose. Majority of tumours in the nose are benign (non-cancerous). If your ENT Specialist suspects a tumour in the nose, a biopsy (sample of the tumour) may be performed in the clinic to rule out cancer.



Best wishes,


Dr Gan Eng Cern
ENT Specialist Singapore

    When Should You See an ENT Specialist in Singapore?

    • Any ear, nose or throat symptoms that you are troubled with or concerned about
    • Persistent blocked nose with mouth breathing or snoring

    Dr Gan Eng Cern

    Dr Gan Eng Cern is a distinguished ENT doctor with fellowship training. In addition to his clinical practice as an ear, nose and throat specialist in Singapore, Dr. Gan has contributed to the academic field as a Senior Clinical Lecturer at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. He is recognised for his extensive research work, with numerous contributions to reputable international ENT journals. Dr Gan is also highly sought after as a speaker and has shared his surgical knowledge as a surgical dissection teacher at various prominent ENT conferences and courses.


    • 2020 – Reader’s Choice Gold Award for Best ENT Specialist (Expat Living Singapore)
    • 2016 – Best Educator Award (Eastern Health Alliance)
    • 2016 – “Wow” Award (Patient Compliment)
    • 2014 – Eastern Health Alliance Caring Award – Silver
    • 2014 – 19th Yahya Cohen Memorial Lectureship (awarded by the College of Surgeons, Academy of Medicine Singapore for best scientific surgical paper)
    • 2012 – Human Manpower Development Award (Ministry of Health, Singapore)
    • 2007 – Singhealth Best Doctor Award


    • MBBS – Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
    • MRCS (Edin) – Member of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    • MMed (ORL) – Master of Medicine in ENT (National University of Singapore)
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