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#1
Old 12-19-2004, 01:57 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Auburn, CA
Posts: 2,601
On BreatheRight Strips and nasal passages: a few questions

I have a bit of a snoring problem, to the point where Althea and I have had to sleep in different rooms due to the noise. The snoring is quite dramatic, and occurs whether I am on my chest, back or side.

After much struggle to ascertain what was causing the problems (short of a visit to the ENT docs), we did some research, talked to our pharmacist and found some basic probable causes:

1) I have gained about 20 pounds over the past 18 months. This very likely has a major effect on my breathing, especially when prone.

2) I seem to have chronically congested sinuses. Even when I feel like I can breathe through my nose, it's quite loud and I'm not really getting the volume of air a normal person gets. I didn't know this until recently

3) I may have developed sleep apnea. I hope not, but it's a very real possibility.


So after a long conversation with the pharmacist, he recommended I give Breathe Right strips a try - you know, the things the football players wear over their nose.

Holy Crap! I can breathe again!

I never had any clue how little airflow was going through my nasal passages! After putting on the first one yesterday, within five minutes I felt more alert, my breathing was no louder than anyone elses, and I just generally felt better.

My voice also had more resonance to it (which is a good thing) so I sat down to sing a couple of my songs. Not only did my voice sound markedly stronger when using my head voice and my mixed voice, I was able to project farther, had more breath control and my range increased by about a major third. I will definitely be using these in the studio, and there's a good chance I'll wear them on stage, image be damned.

Last night, we went to bed with high hopes. Althea got the best night's sleep she'd had in months, and I awoke feeling more rested than I have been in recent memory. I also awoke earlier and was much more alert immediately upon rising.

So my questions are:

Are there any long term effects to the constant use of these strips?

Do they have any long term healing effect?

Will regular use of these help clean out and open up the nasal passages, or are they only going to stay open when the strip is on?


Are there any alternate remedies to increase airflow through the nasal passages on a more permanent basis? Pharmaceutical, surgical, mechanical, whatever.

More Background: I am probably about 30 pounds overweight, and working hard to lose it. I also smoke moderately and spend a lot of time in smoky bars (playing). Can't do anything about the smoky bars until June, when the smoking ban takes effect, but I am working hard in preparation for quitting at the new year. We have two dogs with a huge dust & fur quotient. So allergens abound, and I probably ain't helping none with the smoking.

But the difference is simply amazing, and the fact that it helps us sleep better AND increases the range, power and resonance of my voice really makes me hope that there are other more permanent options out there.
#2
Old 12-19-2004, 02:18 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: KNOXTN
Posts: 4,334
Quote:
Originally Posted by picker
Are there any long term effects to the constant use of these strips?
Not that I know of.

Quote:
Do they have any long term healing effect?
Not that I know of.

Quote:
Will regular use of these help clean out and open up the nasal passages, or are they only going to stay open when the strip is on?
Only when stuck in place.

Quote:
Are there any alternate remedies to increase airflow through the nasal passages on a more permanent basis? Pharmaceutical, surgical, mechanical, whatever.
The strips distend the nasol opening. Plastic surgery mightbe helpful. A plasti tube insert might aslo be a possibility.

IIRC there are surgical possibilities of removing the soft palate for permanent solution.
#3
Old 12-19-2004, 03:05 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Auburn, CA
Posts: 2,601
Well, I'm glad that there's no long term effects with the use of the strips.

How much of an impact will losing the weight and quitting the smoking help with my sinus congestion?

Also, especially as it's the winter, should I be using a saline spray or anything? I have a mild (very mild) sense of dryness and irritation, that is markedly worse outside (in the Wisconsin weather.)

Thanks!
#4
Old 12-19-2004, 04:42 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between the Moon and NYC
Posts: 13,023
Quote:
Originally Posted by picker
Well, I'm glad that there's no long term effects with the use of the strips.

How much of an impact will losing the weight and quitting the smoking help with my sinus congestion?

Also, especially as it's the winter, should I be using a saline spray or anything? I have a mild (very mild) sense of dryness and irritation, that is markedly worse outside (in the Wisconsin weather.)

Thanks!
Quitting smoking will definitely help the congestion.

If your snoring is sending your SO into another bedroom, you might want to hie yourself to the doctor to be assessed for sleep apnea. If you do, in fact, have apnea, you can be fitted with a CPAP machine to help you breathe while you sleep. Apnea is not a joke; it can be fatal. Please get yourself checked out by an ENT specialist.

Robin
#5
Old 12-19-2004, 04:49 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Auburn, CA
Posts: 2,601
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsRobyn
If your snoring is sending your SO into another bedroom, you might want to hie yourself to the doctor to be assessed for sleep apnea. If you do, in fact, have apnea, you can be fitted with a CPAP machine to help you breathe while you sleep. Apnea is not a joke; it can be fatal. Please get yourself checked out by an ENT specialist.
Oh, I agree, and I will be seeing an ENT doc once we get back from the holidays. I was simply blown away by how fully the strips fixed the problem - according to Althea, I didn't snore at all, and as I stated, we both got the best night's sleep in recent memory.

While I'm not discounting the very real possibility of sleep apnea, and will have the Doc make the final diagnosis, the fact that the Breathe Right strip helped so much (and the fact of my history of allergies to dust, smoke and pet hair as a child) leads me to the conclusion that this is mostly allergen and weight related. IANAD, of course.

Is there a specific type of doctor that deals with sleep apnea, or is the ENT the place to start?
#6
Old 12-19-2004, 04:56 PM
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 3,906
I've been on a cpap machine for about two weeks now and I really hope it gets easier. I'ts on a variable setting and it wakes me every morning because it is pushing so much air in that I cannot breathe out!

They say they will give me a constant force one after this initial testing period but man is it hard to get used to. I have been using the Breathe Right Strips as they are the only thing that lets me use it in the first place, it opens up my nose just enough to let me breathe.
#7
Old 12-19-2004, 05:44 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 4,124
I've had a surgical procedure to open the passages in my nose. Actually, they had to somewhat rebuild my nose due to a different surgery (My sinus, nose, pretty much everything behind my face to my ears were all screwed up).

The sides of my nose had somewhat collasped which allowed only about 20% of air though. Part of what they did was cut out a section of my ear to rebuild my nose. They used it to build sort of a flesh version of the breathe right strips - but it is inside the nose.

As for the ear, you can't tell something was taken from the donor site unless you are looking for it. My nose ended up a bit bent, but I'm getting about 50% of air though it at this point. Much better if you ask me. I'm still not done with it. I had it done one year ago and I've to see the doctor again this week to see how it's going.

That procedure was pretty uncommon, but not unheard of. There were several ENTs in the area that would do it. I found a plastic surgen to do mine and insurance covered it.

I would recommend a visit with two EMT's. See what they both say. There could be several options for you.

The reason I say two is because during all this I ended seeing about 4 ENTs in all. One actualy recommended I just use nose spray. Now, when I would inhale the sides of my nose would pull in. The nostral on one side would fold in and close. The nose was more functional when I was a little stuffed up because it restricted the airflow and the nostral wouldn't shut (20% open is better then 0% shut in my book). I tried to explain this to the Nose Spray ENT, but she just wouldn't listen to the problem. Almost like she wasn't interested in actualy fixing the problem. I ran from that office and never looked back.
#8
Old 12-20-2004, 02:41 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Turtle Island
Posts: 969
Quote:
Originally Posted by picker
Oh, I agree, and I will be seeing an ENT doc once we get back from the holidays. I was simply blown away by how fully the strips fixed the problem - according to Althea, I didn't snore at all, and as I stated, we both got the best night's sleep in recent memory.
I'm happy for you. Given you've said you have allergies, there's one thing that might prevent you from using the strips long-term. You could develop a sensitivity to adhesives. I did, from using a prescription patch.

I use Rhinocort Aqua (an expensive prescription nasal spray) to help me breathe while sleeping in the winter (rest of the year, I'm on allergy meds). It's a kind of steroid spray, but the steroid, AIUI, doesn't go into the bloodstream.


Quote:
While I'm not discounting the very real possibility of sleep apnea, and will have the Doc make the final diagnosis, the fact that the Breathe Right strip helped so much (and the fact of my history of allergies to dust, smoke and pet hair as a child) leads me to the conclusion that this is mostly allergen and weight related. IANAD, of course.
Weight is very often a factor in sleep breathing problems, but I (personally) would be anxious to try just about any solution that kept me from having to wear a CPAP machine. <shudder>

As a singer, there's one thing about nasal surgery you need to know. I had surgery to reduce permanent enlargement of some sinus tissue seven years ago, and it didn't take long before I noticed that the surgery changed my voice (not for the better!). Sometimes there's no choice, and it did help a lot with my breathing. However, in your place, I'd try to avoid it, and if somebody convinced me it was necessary, I'd want to hunt for the surgeon with the most experience working on singers.
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#9
Old 12-21-2004, 10:43 AM
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Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Halifax, NS, Canada
Posts: 584
A few words from a fellow snorer:

In the wintertime especially, a simple moisturizing nasal spray may help avoiding the "dried out" feeling. Stick to a simple saline spray unless your doctor advises otherwise.

I also use the Breathe Right strips and find them to be a godsend. Lady Savage says that I am worse when I have had a few glasses of wine before bed, so alcohol may also be a contributing factor.

I have also had some success with Chin-up strips which help to keep the mouth closed. My worst snorts come when I am breathing through my open mouth. I have a moustache, so I use the white "horseshoe" strips.

Snoring involves vibrations in the uvula and soft palate. My doctor is trying to get me into a pilot study that involves botox injections to make these areas firmer and less prone to vibration - and they'll look younger, too!

There are dozens of "snoring spray" products available on the internet, but I would want to know more about their safety and efficacy before I shot any of them down my throat.

Surgery may help - or not. Definitely see two or three specialists before making a decision on this. If their recommendations don't agree, keep going until you are sure you have enough information for a truly "informed decision".
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