In recent years, nasal dilators have caught the attention of many people, from medical professionals to individuals suffering from snoring and Sleep Apnoea.
According to research, nasal dilators are not effective to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), but they perform a lot better than nasal sprays.
What This Article Is All About?
Think Tank: Did you know that 50% of loud snorers suffer from OSA?
Patients of sleep disorders find nasal dilators conducive to treating nasal congestion or allergies. Both internal and external nasal dilators are popular in the market as anti-snoring devices.
Nasal dilators are available on the market in various forms such as:
- In-nostril stents
- In-nostril cones
- Nasal strips
What Are Nasal Dilators?
Nasal dilators help people who suffer from snoring and nasal congestion. The cause for both is an obstruction in the air pathways.
If your nose is congested, there will be difficulty passing air through your nostrils. As a result, most of the air start passing through your mouth. When this happens, the muscles in your jaw relax and allow the tongue to retreat back and block the airway.
When the air passes through the airway, it finds the path obstructed. When it passes through the narrowed space, it causes vibrations. The vibrations cause snoring.
Nasal dilators increase the diameter of your nostrils, hence, effectively treating breathing difficulties.
There are two types of nasal dilators:
- External nasal dilators or nasal strips are applied to the outer surface of the nose using an adhesive.
- Internal nasal dilators are inserted into the nose to keep the nasal air pathway open and stop snoring.
What Are External Nasal Dilators or Nasal Strips?
External nasal dilators or nasal strips work a lot like Band-Aid.
You can stick it across the bridge of your nose to pull open your nasal passage. The strips are straight and stretchy.
You apply the strip on the nose bridge, and it pulls at your nose alars to rebound and return to its original shape. When it applied force on your nose, the nostrils dilate, and the nasal passage opens up to allow more air to pass.
A study conducted on 30 snorers concluded that external nasal dilators reduce snoring intensity. 73% of the people who were part of the study noticed a considerable reduction in their snoring with the use of nasal strips.
But if your nose is stuffed or runny, the nasal strip may not work. Why?
A runny or stuffy nose is usually a result of the swelling of a membrane lining your nasal cavity. Nasal strips are ineffective because they do not address the problems in the nasal cavity.
Pro tip: If your nose is too congested, breathe in steam from a pot of warm water. It will clear your nasal passage.
- Ease of use
- Skin Irritation
- May unstick some time during the night
- One-time use
What Are Internal Nasal Dilators or Nasal Vents?
Internal nasal dilators are anti-snoring devices used like nose plugs.
You insert nasal vents into your nose to keep the nasal passage open. The device comes in various shapes, colors, sizes, and materials. Most of the nasal dilators on the market come in medical-grade silicone.
Most companies selling internal nasal dilators have their products approved by the FDA. It may take you a few tries to find a nasal vent that works perfectly for you.
There is still no proof that internal nasal dilators will work effectively when you have a congested nose.
Since you place this anti-snoring device inside your nose, be careful of irritations during allergies or cold.
Pro tip: Always buy latex-free nasal dilators made from medical-grade hypoallergenic material.
- Ease of use
- You can reuse
- Might take some time to get familiar to its use
Nasal dilators – internal or external – may work differently, but they serve the same purpose: to open up your air pathways.
Nasal dilators are one of the widely-used anti-snoring devices on the market that are cheap, safe, and relatively comfortable.
Do Nasal Dilators Really Work?
Nasal dilators effectively open up a constricted nasal passage. The trick, however, is that you find one that does not cause you discomfort during sleep.
An internal nasal dilator is wedged inside the nose. So, if you do not have the correct fit, it may turn out to be very uncomfortable. Since most dilators are not adjustable, and while they may open up the nasal pathways, they can very also obstruct the air passage on their own.
Similarly, nasal strips or external nasal dilators can also get annoying when you try to peel them off. They may irritate your skin after repeated use.
Ultimately, nasal dilators may or may not work for you. The mechanism by which they work proves to relieve obstruction in breathing, but there are a lot of factors that may make nasal dilators a no-go for you.
In How Many Ways Can a Nasal Dilator Help?
A nasal dilator could serve multiple purposes. It counters snoring, but athletes also use it in sports. Let’s have a look at how a nasal dilator can help treat various issues.
While a nasal dilator may not be completely effective for OSAS patients, it works as a supplementary treatment option.
#2 Snoring (No Anatomical Significance)
If you’re just another regular snorer with no underlying medical condition, then nasal dilators can help enhance the airflow through your nasal passage.
The device keeps your airways from constricting and eases breathing difficulties.
#3 Vestibular Stenosis
When your nasal wings are unstable, they collapse or sag, and trigger a condition called nasal vestibular stenosis.
A nasal dilator can help improve nasal respiration and allow individuals suffering from vestibular stenosis to breathe easily through their nose.
During this condition, the inflammation of the nasal cavity causes air pathways to narrow. This causes breathing difficulties. A nasal dilator will stretch the diameter of the nostrils and widen the nasal passage to allow proper ventilation.
You may also want to clean your nose with a nasal rinse to avoid further inflammation.
People suffering from pollen or dust allergies find nasal dilators effective.
Nasal dilators with integrated breathing air filters allow you to breathe without obstruction and keep you from inhaling pollens and dust.
#6 Endurance Athletes
According to scientific research, nasal dilators, when used by athletes, enhance respiration and consequently increase exercise capacity.
Some studies conclude that improvement in performance may be up to 30%.
The device reduces breathing effort and increases aerobic performance in athletes. As a result, a lot of athletes use nasal dilators in endurance sports such as:
Are Nasal Dilators the Right Choice for You?
For many of those individuals suffering from a snoring problem, nasal dilators are one of the available choices. They can ventilate your nose and put an end to your snoring problem.
However, there’s no guarantee that nasal dilators work for everyone.
Some people feel too uncomfortable and find nasal dilators too intrusive to relax and fall asleep. They feel as if they have something stuck to their face.
So, if you’re too sensitive to foreign objects or have sensitive skin, nasal dilators may not be for you.
Consequently, the answer to this question is yes and no.
It all boils down to the reason why you snore in the first place. If you snore because breathing through the nose is difficult for you, and you breathe through your mouth, a nasal dilator will work for you. If you can get past the discomfort, it’s the perfect choice.
However, if for some reason (for example, sleep apnoea), it doesn’t work, you may want to look at another anti-snoring solution that’s at least as effective and less invasive.
Science Tidbit: Did you know that 28% of chronic snorers suffer from sleep apnoea?
What Are the Side Effects of Nasal Dilators?
There are not many side effects to the use of nasal dilators – internal and external both.
One of the main side effects of an internal nasal dilator is the discomfort. People who are sensitive find it difficult to accustom to the feeling of a foreign object in their nose.
For external nasal dilators, a possible skin reaction is the most common side effect. The adhesive on the nasal strip may cause skin irritation or possible injury during removal.
Why Should You Choose Nasal Dilators Over Nasal Sprays?
For snorers, both anti-snoring solutions are readily available on the market.
However, you may find it difficult to figure out which of these two solutions – nasal sprays or dilators – work best for you. While both are effective, it’s a matter of trial and error to determine which one of the two will give you results.
When it comes to pricing, the nasal spray and dilator both are affordable items. But you will need to buy the nasal spray on a regular basis if you will continually use it.
However, you can reuse nasal dilators. This means that with nasal dilators, you do not have to make regular purchases, and in the long-term, they are comparatively cheaper.
The next factor to consider is the side-effect. There are little to no side-effects of nasal dilators other than the discomfort they may cause to some users. Nasal sprays, on the other hand, have a few adverse effects.
According to research, if you use a decongestant nasal spray for too long, you will ultimately become resistant to it.
Over time, you will take larger doses of the spray, which may shrink the blood vessels in your nasal cavity. When the effects of the spray wear off, the vessels will swell up again and cause withdrawal congestion.
So, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the overuse of nasal sprays could result in drug dependence.
What Are Your Options If Snoring Doesn’t Stop?
Generally, nasal dilators are easy to use and affordable. They are worth a try if you’re really looking to get rid of your nocturnal habit of snoring.
However, sometimes nasal dilators may not work for certain individuals.
This especially goes for those of you who are suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea. If you’re not taking any additional treatments, nasal dilators will not do any wonders for you.
So, if nasal dilators are a no-go, what other treatment options do you have?
Let’s have a look:
- Nasal spray
- Saline rinses
- Nasal steroid sprays or oral allergy pills for treatment of allergic reactions
- Positional therapy
- Myofunctional therapy
As per a study, surgery yields successful results in 70% to 95% of snoring cases.
If snoring persists, and you show symptoms like choking, gasping, or other signs of breathing difficulties, there’s a good chance you have sleep apnoea.
Consult with an ENT specialist to evaluate your treatment options.
How to Find the Perfect Fit for Your Nasal Dilator?
Looking for a nasal dilator can be a tricky task. You want one that adjusts but doesn’t feel too intrusive. Picking the correct size is what you must get right.
If the dilator is too big, it will give you a tight, unpleasant feeling in your nose. You don’t want your nose chock-a-block full of medical-grade silicone. You need to pass air.
The discomfort will force you to stop using it eventually. In contrast, if it’s too small, it’ll fall out of your nose during sleep.
The best way to getting around these frustrations is to go with a starter pack as your first buy. The starter pack has multiple sizes. You can try them out and find the one that best fits you.
Pro tip: For hygiene purposes, you must replace your nasal dilator every three months.
You cannot give a nasal dilator a flick without giving it a proper try. A lot of Australians find nasal dilators an effective solution to their snoring problem.
Those who are not comfortable using nasal dilators have plenty of other anti-snoring devices to choose from.
Snoring is a very common problem. Research says that 45% of people snore at least once in their life. That’s almost half the total population!
So if you’re a chronic snorer, nasal dilators are definitely worth a try.