What’s on that football player’s nose?

An American football player wearing a nasal strip. This photo was taken by Jeffrey Beall and is available from Wikipedia.

It’s football season once again! As you sit back and enjoy your favorite team (Go Blue Devils! Go Eagles!), you may notice that a number of players have something that looks like tape on their noses. This is a nasal strip. Nasal strips are made of a piece of springy plastic embedded in adhesive bandage. While they look cool, they also serve an important purpose- they can help you breathe better!

Your external nose has two holes that air passes through before it enters the inside of your nose. The first hole is your nostril (the blue area in the above picture). The second, and more important hole, is called the internal nasal valve (the green area in the above picture). The internal nasal valve is where your finger stops if you were to pick your nose (not that anybody ever does that). It is bordered by your septum, your turbinate (for more on turbinates, read this post from April), and the cartilage that creates the bridge of your nose.

When used properly, a nasal strip will pull the cartilage up and away from your septum, opening your internal nasal valve and improving the nasal air flow.

Sometimes people have extremely narrow internal nasal valves. This can be caused by trauma, prior nasal surgery, or simply because your nose grew that way. A rhinoplasty can expand the nasal valves by using sutures or cartilage from your septum to increase airflow, just like nasal strips do.

If you’re interested in what changes these surgeries make, check out my rhinoplasty photo gallery by clicking here.

So, the next time you’re exercising or cheering on your favorite team, consider trying a nasal strip. You’ll look cool and you’ll probably breathe better.

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