Nasal valve collapse is a term that refers to any weakness or narrowing of the nasal valve. The nasal valve is already a very narrow airway, so any change in this structure can result in increased resistance or even blocked airflow.
Nasal Valve Functions & Anatomy
The nasal valve works to limit airflow and is the narrowest part of the nasal airway. It is actually made up of several structures, including the lateral nasal wall, the anterior septum, the head of the inferior turbinate, and the osseous piriform aperture. Since there are so many components to the nasal valve, it can be difficult to describe anatomically. If you think of the exterior nose, it may be helpful to know that the nasal valve is located in the middle to lower portion of it.
Nasal Valve Collapse Causes
The most common cause for a nasal valve collapse is rhinoplasty, which is plastic surgery to the nose. Another very common cause is a deviated septum, which normally occurs as a result of trauma to the nose. While injuries and surgeries are the most common reasons for nasal valve collapse, those are not the only causes. A person can experience this condition even if they have not experienced any trauma or surgery to the nose. In some cases, a nasal valve collapse can occur because of inherited anatomical characteristics. A person also become more likely to develop nasal valve collapse as they age, since the structures that make up the nasal valve can naturally weaken over time.
Nasal Valve Collapse Symptoms
Some of the symptoms include:
Congestion and difficulty breathing from the nose
Crusting around the nostrils
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is best to consult an ENT doctor to diagnose the nasal valve collapse. It can be a difficult diagnosis to make since enlarged turbinates and deviated septums cause the same symptoms and can overlapping conditions. To diagnose this condition, your medical history is very important (especially if you’ve had nasal surgeries). Some examination processes may include but are not limited to endoscopy, acoustic rhinometry, or anterior rhinometry.
Nasal Valve Collapse Treatments
The most common treatment for nasal valve collapse is surgery. Rhinoplasty with or without the use of grafts is frequently used to repair nasal valve collapse. Sometimes titanium implants are used which hold the nasal passage open.