How Nasal Dilator Strips Improve Snoring

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If you are looking for ways to stop snoring , you may be interested in how over-the-counter nasal dilators like Breathe Right strips can help improve your breathing while you sleep.

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These nasal dilators open the nostril or nasal passage to improve the passage of air through the nose, but are they right for you? Can they relieve sleep apnea? Find out more about these devices and whether you should try them.

Nasal dilator basics

There are two types of nasal dilators: those that open the nostrils or nasal passage from the outside, and those that open the nostrils from the inside.

An external dilator often consists of a rigid strip that is applied to the outside of the nose with glue, such as hardened duct tape. One popular brand is Breathe Right nasal strips, although there are certainly others.

Nasal dilators work by opening the nostrils and the sides of the nose, similar to lifting the sides of a gabled tent to make more room inside. This will help make breathing through the nose easier and reduce snoring.

This is most likely due to increased airflow through the nose. Ideally , the airflow should pass through a fully open nose, through the throat, past the base of the tongue and into the lungs.

When a stuffy nose develops, due to a narrow nose, a deviated septum , or nasal congestion due to a cold or allergy, a stream or stream of air enters instead. This airflow becomes turbulent, like a shallow stream filled with stones.

As a result, the tissues lining the throat (especially the soft palate and uvula) can vibrate and cause snoring. With the help of a nasal dilator, the amount of air entering the nose can be increased and turbulent air movement stopped .

Do the Breathe Right strips reduce snoring?

A study of 30 people who snored found that an external nasal dilator, similar to the Breathe Right strips, was effective in reducing the intensity of snoring in 73 percent of people, according to a sleep study or polysomnogram .

These dilators worked best if the snorers did not have another medical condition that affected their breathing during sleep, such as obstructive sleep apnea .

Other studies have shown more mixed results regarding the efficacy of these treatments. A comprehensive review of the literature found no improvement in sleep apnea or a slight reduction in snoring with the Breathe Right strips .

Side Effects of Breathe Right Strips

Aside from a possible skin reaction due to the glue used with external nasal dilators, or skin damage upon removal, there is likely to be a small risk of adverse side effects with any of these types of products .

Although nasal expansion strips can reduce snoring, they do not treat sleep apnea. Using the symptom relief strips may give a false sense of confidence in the efficacy of the therapy.

Other devices to open the nose.

Another alternative is an internal nasal dilator, which is a plug that is inserted into your nostrils and remains in place while you sleep. A review of the literature found that internal dilators showed slightly greater reductions in snoring compared to external nasal strips .

There is also a prescription version called Provent and a similar non-prescription version called Theravent. After introducing air into the nose, they reduce the amount of air exhaled. They try to create a greater volume of air in the airways to help stabilize them, thereby reducing the vibration of snoring.

If snoring persists

In general, nasal dilators are easy to use and can be a smart choice for those who snore despite attempts at other conservative treatments. It might be worth a try to see if they are useful. However, nasal dilators may not work for you, especially if you have sleep apnea.

What other ideas? Consider these options:

  • Allergy treatment ( steroid nasal sprays like Flonase, Nasacort, Rhinocort, etc. or oral allergy pills like Allegra, Zyrtec, Claritin, Singulair, etc.)
  • Myofunctional therapy
  • Nasal saline spray
  • Positional therapy (sleeping on your side)
  • Raising the head of the bed
  • Saline rinse (via Neti pot or alternative)
  • Surgery performed by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist

If you have persistent snoring, stopped breathing, shortness of breath or choking, or other symptoms or signs of sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about further testing.

You may need to take a sleep test to determine the condition. Treatment may include the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, an oral device from a dentist, or even nose or throat surgery. All of these can eliminate snoring completely .

Get the word of drug information

If you have persistent snoring, you should seek further medical examination. To learn more, speak with your doctor, who can refer you to a board-certified sleep medicine physician for testing and definitive treatment.

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