A frequently overlooked cause of nasal obstruction is external nasal valve collapse. This occurs when we breath in and our nostrils collapse or move inwards blocking our nasal airflow. Often patients will find relief by using Breathe Right Strips.

SYMPTOMS: Difficulty moving air through the nose when deeply breathing in. Can occur while exercising or at rest when sleeping.

CAUSES: Nasal valve collapse occurs due to the cartilages of the of the nostril being weak, too short or not positioned well. This anatomical problem is present from birth but does get worse as we age or due to nasal trauma. It can also occur as a complication of cosmetic nasal surgery (rhinoplasty, nose job).

DIAGNOSIS: Nasal valve collapse is diagnosed from a patient’s history and a good physical exam of the nose and sinus passages. A Cottle test is done where a patient is asked to breathe in deeply from their nose while the examiner gently pulls the nostril to the side to see if the symptoms improve. Nasal Endoscopy is a diagnostic tool used to get a clear and thorough visualization of the inner nose and structures that may be causing symptoms in addition to the nasal valve collapse.

TREATMENT: Since this is a purely anatomic problem, procedures and surgery are the best treatments. A minimally invasive treatment that can be done in the office is nasal valve collapse repair by using a Latera Implant. A more invasive treatment is rhinoplasty where cartilage grafts are placed in the inner nostril to help prevent them from collapsing. A new treatment using radiofrequency energy to strengthen the nostril cartilage has offered initial promising results but is not covered by insurance plans at this time. Often a Septoplasty and / or Turbinoplasty are also done since it makes no since to repair the outer nose blockage but not repair the inner nose blockage.

Nasal Valve Collapse Case Study