Nasal Obstruction: My Story (William Sarniguet PA-C for Dr Ben Cilento)

As people, we take nasal breathing for granted. For instance, if we began to experience chest pain, one of the first things we ask ourselves are: am I having a heart attack? Should I go to the ER? But if we wake up with a stuffy nose, we just push through the day and don’t think twice about it.

When I first started working with Dr. Cilento as his medical scribe, I came into work feeling stuffy, coughing, and congested. As you can imagine it was very distracting when Dr. Cilento was trying to talk to his patients, and I was in the corner sniffling and coughing.  

After we had finished seeing some of his patient’s he approached me and asked me. “Dude are you alright?” you are coughing it up in there!!! You are bad for business. You need to go get a CT scan”.  I responded, “Why? I am fine. I breathe just fine through my nose. It’s just a little bit of allergies and besides I just had a septoplasty and work done on my turbinates just 2 months ago. I am okay!”.

Backing up a few years earlier I had severe nasal obstruction when I was a child and underwent a septoplasty as a teenager. The procedure never really worked and I continued to struggle through my college years. By the senior year of my Biochemistry degree I had already decided to head down to Houston and work in the health care industry. Before leaving I saw an ENT who told me my nasal septum was still deviated. Two things surprised me about this. First this new ENT told me all this without ever doing a  CT or using a scope to evaluate my nose. Second was the fact that the first ENT had also never looked in my nose or obtained a CT scan. Like so many people I took what he said as gospel since he is the professional. He operated on my nose a second time and once again, I felt better for a week or two but developed nasal obstruction and mouth breathing again.

Fast forward two months and I was in Houston and had landed a job with one of the best ENT surgeons in Houston, Texas. I was excited to learn and couldn’t wait to start seeing patients with Dr Cilento. When he confronted me about my constant sniffling and mouth breathing I was mortified. How could I need more attention, I had already had a procedure after having two attempts at septoplasty and turbinate reduction. I really didn’t want to be evaluated again but he put me at ease and said… “hey lets just see what is happening inside your nasal passages and sinuses”.  He explained that the best way to get a snapshot of the structures important to my nasal health was a CT of my sinuses.  After getting my CT scan Dr Cilento went over my scan with me the same way he helps hundreds of new patients a month. We could immediately see that not only did I STILL have a seriously deviated septum but I had pretty severe sinus disease called SINUSITIS. I have to admit I was pretty upset about this since I had just had surgery a couple months earlier.  

After doing a nasal sinus endoscopy and some other tests including an allergy test and some bloodwork we made plans to fix my septum and my sinuses. Shortly after this, I headed to the OR and had a proper septoplasty and sinus surgery. The results astonished me. I truly did not know what it felt like to breathe through my nose. The septoplasty and sinus surgery went so smoothly and rather than experiencing a great deal of pain like my first two surgeries I woke up feeling pretty good right away! First and foremost my snoring was completely gone and my sleep quality improved significantly. Also, when exercising I did not have to open my mouth to catch my breath.  I healed quickly and couldn’t believe how good I felt and how little time off work I had to take.

My point in telling you this story is the fact that many of us do not know what it is like to breathe through our nose. We are born with the nose we are given and unfortunately, we cannot borrow someone else’s nose to know what proper nasal breathing really is. So, if you are snoring, or you are going to your primary care provider or local urgent care because you are having sinus pressure, sinus congestion, nasal congestion, or nasal obstruction…Don’t wait to get evaluated! Don’t wait to improve your quality life! Just break the cycle and breathe!

Dr Cilento is an expert at the evaluation and diagnosis of sinus and snoring issues. He will rapidly and efficiently figure out what is causing your issues and make a plan to fix it. Most of the time he can fix nasal obstruction with a simple 15 minute procedure while you are under IV sedation in the clinic. The procedure is easier to recover from than you might think and could change your life for the better!