Nasal Valve Collapse – Portland Oregon
What is the nasal valve?
Positioned in the mid to lower region of the nose, the nasal valves represent the narrowest part of the nasal airway passage, extending from the nose to the throat, before air enters the lungs. The contraction of this area serves an essential role, regulating airflow control and enhancing the sensation of inhalation and exhalation. If you’ve experienced bitterly cold weather, you might appreciate the warmth and moisture this narrowed passage provides, countering the harshness of freezing, dry air drawn directly into the lungs through the mouth. Consequently, a narrow passageway to the lungs proves quite beneficial.
Understanding Nasal Valve Collapse
However, an airway passage that restricts airflow excessively may pose challenges. This can result in problems with nasal breathing, leading to various complications depending on the severity.
The term ‘nasal valve collapse’ describes an over-narrowing of the nasal valve beyond a typical range. This leads to increased resistance to airflow when breathing, resulting in symptoms such as chronic stuffy nose, mouth-breathing, snoring, and disrupted sleep due to discomfort in breathing.
Exploring Causes of Impaired Nasal Breathing
The frail structure of the nasal valve, composed primarily of cartilage, a thin sheet of muscle, and skin, is vulnerable to several potential issue triggers. Frequently, it’s a combination of these that leads to the condition.
Both surgery and injury to the nose can result in damage and swelling to the nasal valve. Scar tissue, formed subsequently, could weaken the structure further. Additionally, a deviated nasal septum as a result of nose injury often causes a nasal valve collapse.
Damage to the nasal valve can be drug-related too. Prolonged usage of inhalation drugs, such as cocaine, may contribute to the condition.
In some cases, the nasal valve structure might inherently make people susceptible to a collapse. This could occur due to inherited anatomical traits or congenital conditions such as an overly protrusive nose or exceptionally constricted nostrils.
Ageing, naturally leading to a weakening of the nasal valve structures, is also a determining factor for the condition.
If you’re curious about whether you’re experiencing any level of nasal valve collapse, you can try an uncomplicated at-home test known as the Cottle test. To conduct this test, start by taking a deep but unforced breath in and out through your nose. Following this, gently hold the skin on the sides of your nose and pull it outwards. Repeat the same breathing pattern as previously instructed. If you find your breath flowing more smoothly, this may indicate a degree of nasal valve collapse limiting your breathability. While the degree of restriction might be negligible for some, others could observe it to be more significant.
Addressing Nasal Valve Collapse
Depending on the condition’s intensity, there are several treatments available to address nasal valve collapse.
1. Hands-off Approach: If your nasal framework’s specificities result in minor nasal valve collapse that doesn’t affect your breathing adversely or cause discomfort, immediate intervention may not be necessary. There’s no harm in waiting, and you can always choose to seek treatment later without causing any additional damage.
2. Environmental Control: Allergic reactions causing nasal congestion can exacerbate a slight nasal valve collapse, turning it into a significant issue. Maintaining an allergen-free environment could prove helpful. Regular house cleaning to eliminate dust and pollen, accompanied by using an air purifier, may alleviate the problem.
3. Nasal Valve Dilators: This is a straightforward and efficient treatment involving a firm strip with an adhesive back. When fixed to the nose’s external structure, it physically widens the nasal valve area. Brands like “Breathe Right” strips are commonly known examples. Typically worn at night, they may not be a viable solution for daytime use due to aesthetics.
4. Medication: Nasal steroid and decongestant sprays can aid by reducing the nasal mucosa, sufficiently opening the nasal valves for improved breathing. However, prolonged usage of these drugs is generally not advisable.
5. Nasal Valve Surgery: Although a significant step, surgery offers multiple benefits over self-administered treatments. Post-surgery, the improvement in nasal breathing isn’t confined to nighttime or the period a drug remains active. Your breathing is enhanced 24/7. For those whom home remedies fail to provide sufficient breathing improvement, surgery may be the only alternative for significant improvement.
Schedule An Appointment
If you suspect you’re experiencing nasal valve collapse, we recommend scheduling an appointment with Dr. Shvidler or Dr William Portuese for an evaluation. He will provide a thorough diagnosis, discuss potential treatments tailoring to your specific case, and together, you can start the journey towards restoring your normal breathing functionality.