Your Nose is Collapsing

That’s what the ENT doctor told me on Tuesday.

One of the reasons for my visit (not the primary reason, but I won’t go into that right now) is that I can’t seem to get enough air through my nasal valves.  I’ve been using Flonase for quite awhile now, so I shouldn’t be congested; yet, I continually feel like I can’t breathe through my nose. So the doc observed me as I inhaled… and then stuck a thin metal rod up my right nostril, pulled it outward, and asked “is that better?”

Diagnosis:  External Nasal Vestibular Stenosis — i.e., my already skinny nostrils collapse inwardly when I inhale through my nose, creating an obstructed airway.  Apparently, this is something that can happen with age.  Great.  I’m only 52.  By the time I’m 82, will I need to be on a ventilator?

There actually is a surgical fix for this condition.  It involves taking cartilage from the ear and creating “spreader grafts,” which act as wedges between the septum and the upper lateral cartilages, thereby expanding the internal area of the valve.  Sounds great, right?  A piece of my ear shoved up and sewn into each nostril?  Except that the procedure is rhinoplasty and it permanently alters one’s appearance.  Yikes.
nose cones
The less invasive and certainly less permanent treatment involves the use of either Breathe Right strips or nose cones to open up the nasal valves.  Since I’m self-employed and mostly work at home, I suppose this is the best approach for now.  I’ll just have to remember to peel off the strip or pull out the cones before heading out to buy groceries.

I ordered a pair of nose cones a few days ago.  It will be interesting to see if they help, if I can tolerate them, and (assuming that I — because I will — forget to remove them before leaving the house) what kind of gawking they generate while I’m lifting weights at the gym or standing in line at the post office.

 

7 Comments

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  • That is amazing Bo. I too have skinny nasal passages which inhibits my breathing. The technique you mention of “spreader grafts” sounds about as uncomfortable as it would likely be. They suggested to me that basically roto-rooting out all my passages would be the solution. Post procedure this is the equivalent of getting hit in the face with a baseball bat. And I get to pay for this? For me I find a nasal decongestant and an Rx spray Astepro 0.15% to be helpful sometimes. Hope you feel better!

    • Sadly, decongestants and steroid nasal sprays don’t help with this particular issue. My passages are clear; it’s just that I flare in my nostrils when I breathe.

      And I don’t think the grafts would be uncomfortable after full recovery from the surgery. I’d be more concerned about having a different face afterwards. 😉

      Anyway… leave it to me to have a completely weird condition such as this.

    • I guess you didn’t see the link in the post. Nose cones are a pair of little plastic “baskets” that you stick in your nostrils to hold them open wider. Sound attractive? 😉

  • Good luck Bo on breathing better in the future. I was selling insurance for a while so I know what it’s like to be self-employed and to pay more for non-group medical insurance. And I agree, rhinoplasty does sound scary. Though I wouldn’t mind if I got some of my big half Italian nose shaved off a little.

  • I just found this while searching the condition – I have this condition and I am in my 20’s, so I almost certainly will need the surgery, I was told they can also rebuild it using the septum so maybe I can opt for that, I have been really upset about the whole thing to 🙁 mine was a family trait as my dad also had the problem. Lucky me!

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