The primary symptoms of choanal atresia involve difficulty breathing resulting from a partial or total blockage of either of both sides of the nasal airway. Other signs of choanal atresia include an inability to nurse and breathe at the same time; a persistent blockage or dripping on one side of the nose; the baby’s chest retracts unless it is breathing through the mouth, as when it is crying.
The severity of symptoms depends on which of the two types of choanal atresia – unilateral (restricting only one side of the nasal airway) and bilateral (impairing both sides) – are present. Signs of unilateral choanal atresia may be mild and not become noticeable immediately. Symptoms of bilateral choanal atresia causes are more acute such as cyanosis, when insufficient oxygen causes lips and fingers to turn blue. Some cases result in breathing failure, requiring resuscitation at the time of delivery and immediate surgery to correct the problem.