nasal valve stenosis
There are many causes of nasal congestion or blockage. Nasal valve collapse or stenosis is often an over looked and under diagnosed cause. Stenosis means abnormal narrowing of a passage in the body. The nasal valve refers to the area inside the lower part of the nose between the nasal septum and the lower inside soft cartilage sidewall of the nostril.
Relative firmness of this sidewall area is important in keeping the nose open for breathing. A slight negative pressure occurs on the inside causing the sidewall to be sucked inward. If this area becomes very soft and the connection between the lower and upper cartilage becomes weak, this sidewall area becomes sucked in too much. This can actually prevent good nasal breathing from occurring.
During your exam, a simple test called a modified Cottle test can confirm this condition. It can also be diagnosed using nasal endoscopy (telescopic exam of the nose). Previously, nasal valve stenosis was treated with a surgery in which cartilage grafts were used to strengthen the weak area. More recently, a procedure using an implant has provided excellent results in fixing nasal valve collapse. In many cases, this procedure can be performed in the office.