The nose serves three primary functions: to warm, humidify and filter air as it passes into the body. Breathing problems may impact one or more of these functions. Breathing problems can be temporary or chronic, mild or severe, but they usually increase with age. Breathing problems are assessed through physical examination along with breathing tests, such as lung function tests for diagnosing asthma or spirometry to determine how much and how fast you can blow air out of your lungs. Special videstroboscopic cameras, X-rays, CT, or MRI scans may also be taken to get a visual picture of your breathing apparatus. The most common breathing problems are discussed below:


When an allergen enters the body, the immune system kicks in to counter the adverse effects. In most cases, the immune system cells produces histamine and other substances, which cause the symptoms typically associated with allergies and hay fever. The most common are: headaches, sneezing, watery or itchy eyes, nasal congestion and scratchy throat. Allergic substances range from pollens, animal danders, and dust mites to environmental and chemical pollutants. Smoking can also contribute to nasal congestion and drainage. To successfully treat allergies people need to first reduce their exposure to the reactive allergens.  Allergy medications ( oral or nasal antihistamines, nasal decongestants, and nasal steroid sprays) are usually effective if taken properly and regularly. For more severe cases, allergy shots or sublingual drops may be needed to build up the body’s immune response to the allergens over time.

Deviated Septum and Enlarged Turbinates

The septum is the vertical midline structure inside the nose that divides the two nasal passages. The turbinates are three elongated balloon like structures that lie on the lateral wall of each nasal cavity. They assist in the moistening and temperature control of air inhaled thru the nose. When the septum is crooked or bent, it is called a deviated septum, which can block the flow of air through the nose. Sometimes the larger inferior turbinate can be obstructive or contact the septum further restricting nasal airflow. If the constriction is serious, a simple outpatient surgical procedure can straighten out the septum and reduce the enlarged turbinates which will open the nasal airways.

Environmental Factors

Molds, dust, animal danders, and dry air are the most common culprits of environmentally induced allergies. These can be assessed by your doctor through physical examination and blood or skin tests. If the allergic response is severe, and nonresponsive to medical therapy, Dr. Sciacca may recommend allergy shots or sublingual drops to build up an immunity to the allergens and alleviate your symptoms.

Lung Diseases

Certain lung diseases can also cause breathing problems, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diseases such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis.


Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus membranes within the hollow boney cavities located within the cheek bones on both sides of the nose, between the eyes, and above the eyes within the forehead area. It is characterized by congestion and a feeling of pressure, sometimes in response to moving the head up and down. Sinus congestion can also cause watery eyes and severe headache. Many over-the-counter medications suffice in treating mild sinusitis. For more serious cases, prescription medications may be required to alleviate the pain and pressure and open up the nasal passages. Occasionally, surgery is required to correct chronic sinusitis by reopening blocked sinus passages and removing inflamed sinus tissue. Newer high definition image guided endoscopic sinus surgery techniques are now available that allow outpatient surgery without the need for painful nasal packing, splints, or external incisions as was previously required in the past.
Recently in-office sinus balloon dilatation procedures have become available that allows awake sinus procedures using special instruments with only topical nasal anesthesia.  

If you’re experiencing persistent breathing problems, please contact our office and schedule an appointment with Dr. Sciacca

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4501 Southlake Pkwy
Suite #200
Hoover, AL 35244