Its All In Your Head: A New Way to Fix a Stopped-Up Nose
In my role as an ENT specialist, very frequently patients of all ages come to my office with a complaint of inability to breathe well through the nasal passage. Interestingly enough, in children under age 6 the most common reason that they cannot breathe well through their nose is actually not related to the nose itself. In these kids, mouth breathing generally is due to enlarged adenoid tissues at the very back of the nose above the tonsils.
Today I wanted to talk more about nasal airway obstruction in adults, especially in an area that many people do not consider. The nasal passages are important in their overall health. The nasal tissues filter warm and humidify air so that when it gets to the back of the throat, then into the lungs it is clean, moist and closer to body temperature. Many of us have experienced transient or occasional nasal obstruction due to a cold or allergies causing tissue swelling within the nose. This usually resolves with time and medications.
Another reason for a blocked nasal passage can be from a crooked or deviated septum. The septum is the plate of cartilage and bone that divides the nose into two equal passages. It is supposed to be straight and in the midline. Often due to either injury or abnormal growth patterns the septum becomes crooked. It then pushes into one nasal passage more than the other causing blockage. Surgery to correct a deviated septum has been done for over 100 years and is generally very successful.
There is a third reason for blocked nasal passage that I want to discuss more. The side walls of the nose on each side can be pinched together with your fingers and that immediately will block your nose. However usually they are fairly rigid and do not collapse. Recent research has shown that in at least one fourth of people who have obstructed nasal breathing, the problem is due to these side walls being relatively weak and falling inwards toward the middle.
We have known about this condition of lateral nasal wall narrowing for many years. Until recently it has been very difficult to correct without a fairly extensive surgery, which requires lifting up the skin of the nose to expose the cartilages then trim them and sew them into a different position. Fortunately, medical technology has improved and there is a reliable and easy way to correct this problem that I have been using in my office.
This procedure is commonly now known as the VivAer procedure. It involves using a thin heat probe a little narrower than a pencil and applying it inside the nose especially at the areas that collapse inward. The probe has very complex technology behind it and involves a computer that regulates the amount of heat given and the time each application takes.
While it may sound a little scary or painful it is very well tolerated. It is easy to numb the inside of the nasal passages with nasal sprays and medication on cotton, then after that part is numbed, a small amount of local anesthetic is injected in and around the nose with very tiny needles, like in a dentist office. Once the nasal passages are numb the procedure is done on each side and overall takes less than 15 minutes. Patients can resume normal activity easily the next day.
One way to determine if you might benefit from the VivAer procedure is to simply use your fingers to pull the sidewalls of your nose outward. This is very similar to the action of Breathe Right strips. If either pulling the sidewall out or application of one of those strips helps improve your breathing, then you would definitely be a candidate for this procedure.
Like so many things, you can get more information online at aerinmedical.com. Go to the VivAer section for drawings and a more thorough description. They also make another product called RhinAer, which I have used and works well to eliminate a constant or frequent runny dripping nose.
Wishing you clear breathing.