Using nasal strips to combat bouts of snoring is becoming more popular, but experts say that for most people the method simply does not work.
Dale H. Rice, USC professor and chair of otolaryngology and professor of neurosurgery, said that the strips, which attach to the bridge of the nose and flare the nostrils, are effective at increasing the air flow but for 99 percent of snorers that’s not where the problem is.
“Using the strips won’t hurt anything, but usually the snoring is generated at the soft palate, in the throat,” he said.
As a result, only people who have had broken noses, nose surgery or have other minor nasal breathing difficulties are likely to benefit.
Rice said that mild snoring is extremely common and remains merely a social problem rather than cause for concern.
Often, a person can eliminate such snoring by sleeping in a different position and avoiding sleeping pills and alcohol before bed.
However, chronic or unusually loud snoring can signal a dangerous condition called sleep apnea, during which sufferers stop breathing as often as hundreds of times each night. Loud snoring also can elevate blood pressure and increase stress on the heart and lungs, potentially triggering cardiac arrhythmia.
Rice said that a person who snores regularly would gain a far greater benefit from seeing a physician than applying a nasal strip, but he stopped short of saying they were useless.
“It’s worth a try, but if it doesn’t work, you should look into what’s really causing the snoring,” he said.
While the strips can conceivably help some people, Rice emphasized that athletes who wear the strips to improve their game are not among them.
“People only breathe through their mouths during strenuous exercise so a nasal strip isn’t going to help athletic performance. Just forget about it,” he said.