How you can improve nasal breathing
Why snoring occurs can have different reasons. Yet a functioning and unimpeded nasal respiration is a prerequisite for a snore free night. If the nose is constricted or displaced, it may facilitate the emission of undesirable noises. We will show you different approaches to finding a solution to this issue – From nasal dilators through to nasal irrigation devices.
If the nose is constricted or displaced – for example, due to a mucosal swelling that often goes along with the common cold or due to an anatomical peculiarity such as nasal polyps, enlarged nasal conchae or crooked nasal septum – airway resistance will increase. In other words, you will find it difficult breathing in or out freely. Obstructions lead to turbulences in the flow of breathing air, which in turn put the surrounding tissue into vibration. Physically, the mechanism is comparable to the effect of a whistling compressed air valve.
In many cases, impeded nasal respiration may not be the state that triggers snoring, but an important contributory cause. Because when you’re not able to breathe properly through the nose, you will automatically switch to mouth breathing. But breathing through the mouth not only is annoying due to the associated noise emission, but it also promotes oral snoring, which is a type of snoring where the flow of breathing air puts the tissue of the soft palate into vibration. Moreover, it increases susceptibility for infections, since the nose’s breathing air filtering mechanism no longer functions. Bacteria and viruses that also float in the air remain unfiltered as they are inhaled and transported to the lungs, where they promote infections.
You should therefore make sure that the nose always remains free to ensure unimpeded respiration through the nose. For that purpose there are various auxiliary means available:
Nasal spray: Xylometazoline
Xylometazoline, a substance that is used in nasal sprays can provide for short-term relief. It is frequently used when having caught a cold or when getting the sniffles.
Xylometazoline ensures that the small blood vessels in the nasal mucosae constrict. The swelling of the mucous membrane starts to recede as a consequence thereof. The nose is no longer constricted. Breathing in air becomes easier. Such nasal sprays shouldn’t be taken for longer than a week, though, as they dry out the mucosa and quickly make it conditional upon consistent use. As an alternative, there are sprays that include sea salt and essential oils, which are also meant to bring about a reduction in swelling. They can be applied without any concerns. There are, however, hardly any scientific studies available.
Nasal irrigation can be helpful, especially if you have caught a cold and to flush out excess nasal discharge out of the nasal cavity. The admixture of saline additives in water is believed to effect a reduction in the mucosa’s swelling.
The attachment of the nasal irrigation device is inserted in one of the nostrils. Afterwards, the water flows through the nose and comes out again through the other nostril. At the same time, the mucous that clogs up the nose, is secreted. What is more, nasal lavages also help people who are allergic to pollen during periods of high pollen count.
Nasal strips are attached to the bridge of the nose and as a consequence thereof softly widen the nasal wings from the outside. The airways, or the anterior part of the nasal cavity (nasal vestibule), to be more precise, are kept open.
A few years ago nasal strips became really popular, as they were used by a lot of professional soccer players during a match. It has been scientifically proven that improved nasal breathing increases performance – up to 30% as a matter of fact.
Nasal dilators / stop snoring cones
Nasal dilators – sometimes also referred to as stop snoring cones – are also meant to widen and to keep the nostrils as well as the anterior part of the nasal cavity open. Unlike with strips this effect occurs from within. Nasal dilators are available in different designs. The most common ones are the wing shaped and tubular shaped cones. Apart from that, there are also special types and combinations thereof, such as the dowel-shaped dilators.
For those who suffer from an allergy, stop snoring cones help provide relief as well – because there are special nasal dilators, which have a foam filter integrated that filters breathing air during inhalation. It minimizes exposure to pollen, house dust and animal hair, which can be responsible for dry and irritated nasal mucosae.
A stent for the nose
AlaxoLito is a stent for the nose. Stents are predominantly used in vascular surgery in order to keep constricted arteries open. They are made of a fine metal mesh that gently spans itself out or expands, respectively, thus fastening itself to the vascular wall and widening the vessel in the process.
Of course the AlaxoLito is considerably larger than such a vascular stent, but the application principle is similar. Once the stent has been inserted into the nose, the metal mesh expands and widens the nasal airways. AlaxoLito can be put in the nose and removed again in the morning by the patient himself. Especially in the case of enlarged nasal conchae can this aid be recommended for use.
In special anatomical conditions affecting the nose, an operation may also provide relief from snoring. Correcting the nasal septum or the excision of nasal polyps are examples of such a surgical procedure. An experienced ENT physician should, however, carefully examine, whether such a step is advisable in your case and whether snoring issues can really be fixed this way or not.
In many instances surgery has proven to be successful without getting rid of the snoring problem. This can be explained by the fact that issues with nasal respiration only seldom trigger the occurrence of snoring. Improving nasal breathing therefore is mostly just the first step to finding a long-term solution. An operation may be very helpful, but is barely sufficient.