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Nasal Valve Collapse

What is nasal valve collapse?

Nasal valve collapse is a common cause of nasal congestion or obstruction of airflow through the nasal passage. This occurs when the junction between the lower and upper sidewall of the nose tends to “collapse in" when breathing through the nose.

Lateral Nasal Wall Diagram

This problem may also occur in conjunction with other causes of nasal obstruction such as a deviated nasal septum or enlarged turbinates.

What causes nasal valve collapse?

  • age-related changes
  • trauma
  • nasal surgery in the past such as a rhinoplasty
  • can occur without any obvious reason

Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?

  • nasal stuffiness or congestion
  • nasal blockage or obstruction
  • trouble breathing through your nose
  • unable to get enough air through your nose during exercise

You may have nasal valve collapse if breathing through your nose improves when pushing the skin on your cheek towards your ear.  This is called a Cottle Maneuver.

Dr. Sikand will conduct this test during your examination. He may also perform a nasal endoscopy to evaluate the nasal anatomy and a nasal function study to measure the nasal airflow.

What are the Signs of Nasal Valve Collapse?

Signs that you could have internal or external nasal valve collapse include the following:

  • Chronic snoring
  • A persistent feeling of nasal congestion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Obvious nasal obstruction that inhibits breathing from one nostril
  • Nosebleeds
  • The formation of crusts around the nostrils

What Happens if Nasal Valve Collapse is Left Untreated?

It is important to talk to a qualified doctor about the symptoms of nasal valve collapse. Nonsurgical treatments such as nasal dilators may be appropriate for better breathing management. However, these do not resolve the collapse, they merely support the nasal passageways. Without proper treatment, it is possible that the cartilage involved in the collapse may weaken further or even die. After a thorough examination of your nose, Dr. Sikand can discuss which approach may be best for you.

How is Nasal Valve Collapse Diagnosed?

To diagnose nasal valve collapse, Dr. Sikand performs a visual examination, medical history review, and specific tests. One simple way to spot a collapse is to use the fingers to gently press the cheek in an upward, outward direction. If doing this helps breathing improve, a collapse may be suspected. The diagnosis may be confirmed with a minimally-invasive endoscopy. This test uses a very thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end to observe the inside of the nose in a way that a standard physical exam cannot.

Is Nasal Valve Collapse Dangerous?

The collapse of the internal or external nasal valve is generally not considered dangerous. There is concern that breathing may become increasingly difficult without treatment. However, this doesn't happen in every case and, when it does, it usually develops gradually. We expect to have time to address the worsening condition before the obstruction to respiration becomes a significant problem.

What are My Treatment Options for Nasal Valve Collapse?

Nasal valve collapse can be treated using a few different options. The doctor will recommend the option or options that are best suited to your needs and the severity of your collapse. Surgery may be performed in some cases. However, you may also benefit from conservative remedies such as the use of antihistamine medication or a nasal dilator like Breathe-Right strips. The in-between treatment that has become increasingly popular in recent years is the insertion of a Latera implant. This device maintains optimal nasal structure for a prolonged period. Over time, the implant dissolves, and symptoms may recur. At that time, the procedure can be repeated.

What treatment options are available?

One option for repairing the nasal valve includes surgery to place a supporting cartilage graft. Typically, this would require a longer procedure under general anesthesia in the operating room.

Non-surgical options include the use of antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays or Breathe-Right strips.

Recently, a self dissolving implant called the Latera implant can be placed in the office under local anesthesia. It is inserted through a small incision in  the nose. This allows for faster recovery with less swelling as well as a shorter procedure without the risk of general anesthesia.

Dr. Sikand performs the Latera procedure comfortably in his office as a standalone procedure or a component of his minimally invasive techniques for nasal and sinus problems. Sometimes this is done in the operating room along with other procedures requiring general anesthesia.

If you would like more information or to request an appointment to discuss your options please contact us today!

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