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UCI Health review of over-the-counter nasal dilators finds them effective

June 30, 2016
Illustration of nasal dilators
Image Courtesy of The JAMA Network© 2016 American Medical Association

Many people turn to nasal strips, clips and stents to help them breathe easier when sleeping or exercising. Third-year UC Irvine medical student Christopher Badger noticed a growing number of patients asking about these dilators in clinic, so he decided to review the published research on these products.

His results appear online June 30 in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery. Badger and his coauthors generated a database of 33 available over-the-counter dilators using medical literature and internet searches.

Generally, they found that these products work.

“Our findings suggest that nasal strips and nasal clips effectively relieve obstruction of the internal nasal valve and we recommend that patients explore their use before they turn to surgical intervention,” he said.

In the review, the dilators were classified into four categories based on how they worked:

  • External nasal dilators worn over the bridge of the nose;
  • Internal nasal stents placed into each nostril;
  • Nasal clips placed over the nasal septum;
  • Septal stimulators that apply pressure to the nasal septum to increase circulation in the area and promote nasal passage opening.

Badger added that this systematic comparison of nasal dilators does not recommend one product over the other, but rather points to the possible efficacy of these products.

UC Irvine medical student Nicole Kiyohara, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary otolaryngologist Dr. Tjoson Tjoa and Dr. Brian Wong, UC Irvine professor of otolaryngology and biomedical engineering, contributed to the study, which can be accessed here (subscription may be needed): http://archfaci.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2530409

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