Can My Nose Make Me Run Faster?

Shaw-cycle1-225x300Richmond is rapidly becoming one of the most active sports and recreation areas in the nation. We have more and more amateur running races every year, expansions of the biking trails, the Nissan Xterra series, and the 2015 World Cycling Championships on the horizon. Richmond was recently voted “Best Town Ever” by Outside magazine. It is a really exciting time in RVA!

I am seeing more and more athletes in my practice who are suffering from breathing issues while exercising. Many people feel like their nose is blocked or stuffy, or that they have excessive drainage which hinders their performance. As a competitive cyclist, I understand how it feels to not be able to perform at your best.

The most common reason for not breathing well during exercise is a deviated septum. The septum is the cartilage in the middle of your nose that divides each nostril. If this cartilage is not straight, it can severely impact the amount of air that comes through. Think of a deviated septum like an accident on I-64: If you take 3 lanes of traffic and squeeze it down to 1, not many cars can get through. Similarly in the nose, if you take one side and deviate the septum, not much air gets through. Some people may need a simple 1-hour surgical procedure to correct the problem, while many others improve after using medicated nasal spray.

In the office, I try to spend more than the average amount of time with my patients. With active people, I try to find out just how the issue is impacting their life, and what their goals are with treatment. I do a very thorough physical exam including watching how the nose is working during your breathing, and often using a small video camera to look inside of the nose or throat to really get an understanding of each patient’s unique anatomy. I then try to explain my thoughts in a really easy to understand manner. I never appreciate someone who tries to impress people using strange terminology – whether it is at the Apple Store or at my local mechanic. My thought is, just give it to me straight and in terms I can grasp. I apply the same philosophy to my patients. We will come to a mutual decision about the best way to proceed whether it is medication, surgery, or lifestyle modification.

If you have difficulty breathing through your nose or feel like your performance is not what you would like, come in for a visit. You can find more information at our site or call 804-775-4559.