Diagnosing and Treating Nasal Valve Collapse

Nasal valve collapse occurs when the airways cave in, causing the nasal passage to become too narrow. This can create nasal blockage which results in difficulty breathing. Sufferers of the condition might also experience snoring. Patients can receive effective treatment for this breathing disorder with leading otolaryngologists at Chesapeake Ear Nose & Throat in Baltimore, MD. We can correct the underlying cause of your nasal valve collapse and open the airway for improved breathing.

What Exactly Are the Nasal Valves?

Illustration of nose and nasal valvesOn each side of the nose, there are two nasal valves: one internal and one external. These valves are located in the middle and lower portions of the nose, at the narrowest section of the airway.

Typically, the airflow is limited in the nasal valves. Limited airflow is actually desired so that the air you breathe can be warmed and purified. However, if nasal valve collapse occurs, it can cause increased resistance, making breathing difficult. In most cases, collapse occurs in the internal nasal valves. However, the external valves can be affected, as well.

How Does a Nasal Valve Collapse Occur?

A collapse is characterized by a weakening of the nasal valve. The most common causes of this condition include:

  • Nasal trauma or fracture, which can lead to inflammation or scar tissue
  • A congenital defect in the cartilage of the nose
  • Previous rhinoplasty (nose job) procedures
  • A deviated septum
  • Decreased bone density due to the natural aging process

Signs & Symptoms

The most common symptoms of nasal valve collapse include general feelings of stuffiness, and the inability to breathe fully. This can affect one or both nostrils. Patients experiencing these symptoms may find temporary relief from breathing strips, as they lift the soft tissues and expand the airway. This solution will not provide a lasting improvement, however, and you will eventually need to be treated by a professional.

It can be difficult to diagnose nasal valve collapse because the symptoms often overlap with other conditions, such as a deviated septum or enlarged turbinates. An ENT, like the specialists at Chesapeake Ear Nose & Throat, will need to perform a thorough assessment to determine the exact cause.

Treatment for Nasal Valve Collapse

The treatment recommended for nasal valve collapse will largely depend on the cause. For example, if the obstruction is primarily the result of tissue inflammation, the condition can often be treated non-surgically with anti-inflammatory agents and antibiotics.

It can be difficult to diagnose nasal valve collapse, so it is important to choose a highly trained specialist for your treatment.

If the airway obstruction is due to physical abnormalities, you may require surgical intervention. The internal nasal valves can be augmented using a spreader graft, which is placed between the upper lateral cartilage and the septum to correct the problem. An external valve collapse can typically be addressed with an alar batten graft. The graft is placed at the weakest portion of the lower lateral cartilages to fortify the nasal airway. The grafting material can be taken from ear, rib, or septal cartilage. Many doctors prefer the results which can be obtained from conchal (ear) cartilage because of its curved shape.

Schedule a Consultation

If you are experiencing breathing difficulties in one or both nostrils, consider scheduling an appointment with one of our specialists. We can help determine the cause of your condition, and begin developing a fully personalized treatment plan to meet your needs. To reach our practice, contact us using our online form or call (410) 391-1118.