Collapsed Nasal Valve
The Nasal Valve is the first area of narrowing air encounters when you breathe through your nose. A common cause of nasal congestion is nasal valve collapse. The nasal valve is a narrow passage in the front of your nose where air passes when we inhale. If this area narrows even further, it can cause difficulty breathing through the nose. A weakness or narrowing of the nasal valve is know as nasal valve collapse. The collapse can occur at rest, while sleeping, or during exercise. Other structures that can contribute include the septum and inferior nasal turbinates. Depending on the severity of the collapse, it can cause some blockage or complete obstruction of the nasal airway. Causes of nasal valve collapse include scar tissue from trauma to the nose (including nasal fracture) or prior surgery (including rhinoplasty), aging, genetics, inflammation, or weak nasal cartilage.
Nasal valve collapse means the cartilage in your nose caves inward when you breathe in, thereby blocking airflow. If you breathe better through your nose by pulling your cheek skin away from your nose, it is possible you have nasal valve collapse. This is called the Cottle Test.
If you breath better with external nasal strips, you may have nasal valve collapse. Sometimes this problem is visible looking at the outside of the nose and sometimes it is more visible with an internal exam of the nose, called a nasal endoscopy, that is performed by your ENT provider. Your provider will evaluate you for all potential causes of nasal congestion. Treatment options may include medications or surgery. One of our ENT providers can discuss your options and determine if you are a surgical candidate for nasal valve repair. An absorbable nasal implant or the native cartilage of your nose can be used to support the lateral nasal cartilage with minimal risk of cosmetic changes. This may be coupled with other nasal surgeries, including rhinoplasty, septoplasty, turbinate reduction, or sinus surgery. Surgery is outpatient and minimally invasive. The goal is to permanently restore normal anatomy and restore breathing function.