Mike Dilkes is a leading Ear, Nose & Throat consultant and laser surgeon based in London. Mike has performed thousands of procedures and is acknowledged as a leading authority on the use of laser treatment. 

Blocked Nose Guide Contents

0 / Guide Introduction

1 / What is a blocked nose?

What is happening when your nose is blocked

2 / What causes a blocked nose? 

Understand what might be creating your blocked nose

3 / Ways to unblock a nose 

Surgical and non-surgical options to deal with a blocked nose

4 / Surgical procedures to unblock a nose

Understand surgical options to deal with a persistent blocked nose

5 / Recovery

Recovery from blocked nose surgery

Contact Us


Want to discuss your blocked nose problems, or other related ear, nose and throat issues? Please contact us for a confidential appointment.

Part 2

What causes a blocked nose?

There are 8 different causes of a blocked nose:

Large adenoids

These are lumps of glandular lymphoid tissue similar to the tonsils. They sit in the very back of the nose, and often swell up when the patient has a cold or upper respiratory tract infection. Adenoids usually shrink away by the age of 10 years old, although they can be enlarged in adults - when they can be associated with HIV infection. Commonly they occur in the age group 3-5 years old, when they may be removed as they are a cause of obstructive sleep apnoea or chronic glue ear problems. 

Cancer of the post nasal space

This is a relatively rare tumour, but it is much more common if you originate from Southeast China and have a diet high in salted fish. A Chinese man with a blocked nose is a worry. 


Deviated nasal septum

The nasal septum is a thin bone and cartilage wall which separates the right side of the nose from the left. It is easily damaged by trauma - which can even be during childbirth if the delivery is face to pubis. Often associated with sporting injury, in particular boxing, rugby, basketball and football. 



The common cold, or rhinovirus infection is something we have all suffered from. The viral infection causes the lining of the nose to swell, leading to blockage, discharge and sneezing. 



This is usually a bacterial infection, which can be very painful and cause quite a severe illness. Classically pain radiates into the upper jaw teeth. General inflammation of the face and sinuses causes swelling of the nose internally. 


A type 1 hypersensitivity response, allergy is when the body reacts to normal substances in an unusual way which causes histamine release and swelling, runny nose and sneezing. The nose is usually involved with inhaled allergy, such as house dust mite, birch tree or grass pollen etc. 

Nasal polyps

These can be associated with allergy or infection, and can be the first sign of a sinus cancer. They can cause complete nose blockage with no flow at all, and complete loss of smell and taste. 


This condition occurs in response to some form of inflammation, often unknown, although allergic rhinitis is quite common. In reality it is probably not a separate category, although perennial non-allergic rhinitis appears to be a condition on its own.