Valve is a structure or a flap that regulates fluid or air flow in the body. In the nose, certain cartilage and tissue acts as a valve for regulation of air flow. The nasal valve is narrow and consists of several structures such as anterior septum, inferior turbinate, piriform cartilage, and so on. In short the valve structure is situated in middle and lower part of nose.
Airflow resistance is important because the air before entering into the lungs must be humidified, and become warm. Nasal valve also acts to limit the flow of air.The valve slightly becomes narrow as we breathe in and opens again as we breathe out in normal circumstances. Nasal valve collapse is the term used when the valve becomes narrow or gets weak. When this occurs the valve does not function properly and breathing becomes difficult.
Causes Of Nasal Valve Collapse
Collapse of nasal valve occurs due to several reasons. It can occur as a congenital defect. In this the malformation occurs when the child is in the womb. Trauma is common with nose. Nasal valve collapse can occur due to trauma.It can also occur due to structural defect such as deviated nasal septum. Deviated nasal septum can develop as a result of nasal injury.
Deviation often is since birth. In deviated nasal septum occurs when the thin nasal septum which divides the two nostrils is displaced to one side. Nasal valve collapse also occurs due to surgical repair of the nose. Formation of inflammation and scar after nasal surgery can become a cause for collapse of nasal valve.
Symptoms Of Nasal Valve Collapse
If you are snoring or snuffling or if you cannot breathe normally through your nose, it may have consequence on your sleep. It can be due to many causes such as deviated septum of nose. However, many people do not know that it can also be a symptom of nasal valve collapse. Person having nasal valve collapse may have symptoms of stuffy nose and obstruction of nose.
But is not the same as congestion caused by allergy or cold is temporary and can be treated. But in patients having nasal valve collapse the congestion lasts permanently. Along with difficulty in breathing due to narrowing, patient may also sometimes bleed through nose. Formation of crusts around nostril is commonly associated with nasal valve collapse.
Diagnosis And Treatment Of Nasal Valve Collapse
Nasal valve collapse is difficult to diagnose because deviated septum and enlarged turbinates also present with similar symptoms. Nasal valve collapse is diagnosed by an ENT surgeon. Medical history of previous nasal surgery helps in diagnosis. Patient having previous nasal surgery may have increased risk of developing this condition.
Further following techniques will also help to detect the abnormality. Nasal endoscopy, use of nasal decongestant drops and rhinometry and certain maneuvers such as Cottle’s maneuver and Bachman’s maneuver can help in detecting nasal valve collapse.
There is no single treatment that is accepted for patients with nasal valve collapse. Correction can be done in multiple ways. In some patients having mild symptoms, the condition is managed conservatively. It consists of following:
- Pulling the cheek is helpful in breathing among patients having this nasal valve collapse. Many patients do it unknowingly as it opens the airways significantly and patient is able to breathe. In fact it is a diagnostic maneuver called Cottle maneuver.
- Use of nasal steroid spray is also effective in dealing with valve congestion.
- Use of prosthetic splints placed on the outside of the nose or certain other nasal valve dilator used from inside are effective treatment options for nasal valve collapse.
If the nasal valve collapse causes serious problem in breathing, surgical correction is possible. In this procedure the internal nasal valve is repaired surgically. Surgery can be performed for external valve collapse also.