Nose conditions

The nose is the organ of smell located in the middle of the face. Nose and sinus disorders afflict millions of people, causing pain, fatigue, headache, breathing difficulties and loss of smell, among other symptoms. These conditions are, however, easily treatable.

As an ENT specialist, Dr van Lierop is an expert in the diagnosis, treatment and management the following conditions affecting the nasal cavities:

- Sinusitis
Sinusitis is an inflammation or swelling of the lining of the sinuses and nasal passages. This is a common condition that interferes with the way mucus usually drains, causing nasal inflammation, congestion, thick, discoloured discharge from the nose, postnasal drainage (down the throat), facial pain, pressure or tenderness. Sinusitis and blocked sinuses can be caused by many factors and can be acute and become chronic. You should see an ENT specialist if you have had these infections a number of times, if symptoms last for weeks or if they fail to respond to treatment. Depending on the severity and type of infection, sinusitis may be treated with medication like antibiotics or nasal sprays. In other cases, surgery may be advised to open up the natural drainage pathways of the sinuses.

- Hay fever & Allergies
Hay fever, otherwise known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction to environmental allergens such as pollen, grass, dust and animal dander (fur, feathers or tiny flecks of skin of animals). Allergic rhinitis develops when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something that typically causes no problems in most people. Allergies can be seasonal, worse during certain seasons, or present all year round. Common symptoms of hay fever include sneezing, congestion, coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes, sinus pressure and headaches. These symptoms can range from a mild annoyance to a debilitating experience. Dr van Lierop can assist those with hay fever in identifying triggers, how best to avoid them. Antihistamines and certain nasal sprays may also be helpful.

- Deviated septum
A deviated septum occurs when the nasal septum, the bone and cartilage that separates the nostrils, is significantly uneven, off-centre or crooked. This may be as a result of nasal trauma, or simply congenital. Depending on the severity, a deviated septum may cause difficulty breathing, nasal congestion, sleep disruptions, frequent nosebleeds and recurrent or acute sinus infections. In severe cases, surgery may be needed to realign the deviated septum (bone or cartilage), improve breathing and relieve symptoms. This surgery is known as a septoplasty and is done by an ENT such as Dr van Lierop. This nose surgery is done with specialised cameras and equipment through the nose, making it minimally invasive.

- Nosebleeds
Nosebleeds are a common occurrence. Since the nostrils have many blood vessels that lie close to the surface, they can be easily injured or disturbed by nose-picking. Nosebleeds are commonly caused by local trauma but can also be caused by nasal or sinus infections and prolonged inhalation of dry air.

Although seldom a cause for alarm, in rare cases, nosebleeds may be a sign of a nasal tumours, blood vessel disorder, vascular malformations in the nose or even early signs of leukaemia. Nosebleeds that are recurrent or last longer than 20 minutes should be cause for alarm and should be a reason for you to book an appointment with an ENT specialist. In severe cases where the bleeding doesn't stop, cauterization of the blood vessel may be needed.

- Nasal fracture
A broken nose also called a nasal fracture, is a break or crack of the nasal bones. A broken nose usually involves the bone over the bridge of your nose, as well as the part of cartilage that separates the nostrils, the septum. Nasal fractures are commonly caused by contact sports, physical fights, falls and other forms of facial trauma. A broken nose can cause pain, swelling, bruising, bleeding and may leave your nose deformed and crooked leading to blocked nasal passages and difficulty breathing. In these severe cases, Dr van Lierop will need to realign the displaced nasal bones and septum. It is best to do this within 14 days of the injury.

- Blocked Nose
This is a very common complaint from both children and adults. A stuffy, congested or blocked nose occurs when the lining of the nasal cavity becomes inflamed. This may be due to a common cold, the flu, sinusitis, hay fever, allergies or rhinitis. Many other conditions can cause a blocked nose, these include:

  • Foreign body
  • Enlarged adenoids
  • Deviated nasal septum
  • Nasal polyps
  • Nasal tumours

If you are struggling with a blocked or stuffy nose that fails to respond to treatment, be sure to make an appointment.

- Snoring
Snoring is a condition in which the tissues inside the airways relax and narrow, constricting airflow and causing a vibrating, hoarse or harsh sound. The sound of snoring can vary and can become worse with allergies, nasal congestion, alcohol use and enlarged tonsils or adenoids, and seems to worsen with age.

While we all snore sometimes, habitual snoring may be caused by a structural defect in the nasal cavity and can be more than a nuisance for your bed partner. Those who snore regularly when sleeping may also have obstructive sleep apnea, which creates several problems. While lifestyle changes can help stop snoring, medical devices and surgery may reduce disruptive snoring completely. Be sure to see Dr van Lierop if you or your partner is in need of a more permanent solution to snoring.