By: Dr. Marian Eddy-
You may have heard of or seen on social media something called a nasal specific, sometimes also called “nose balloons” or other similar descriptive names. It is a very specialized technique that can be used in many different cases, but on first look can seem a bit odd, and is usually met with a lot of questions such as “what the &%$#”, “why would you do that”, “what is that supposed to do”, and “yuck”. Keep reading for related anatomy, a more detailed description of the technique, indications, answers to those frequently asked questions, and testimonials from real life patients who have it done.
Within your nasal passages, there are 3 curls of bone called your superior, middle and inferior concha or turbinates. These curls form passages (called superior, middle and inferior meatus) that are covered in mucosa, which constitute the paranasal sinuses. Inflammation within these sinuses may contribute to acute/chronic sinusitis, sinus headaches, pressure behind the eyes, vertigo, or possibly snoring.
A finger cot is tied to the end of a sphygmomanometer bulb and then inserted into one of the lower nasal meatuses. Once in place, it is inflated, quickly deflated and removed. The process is then repeated on the other side, and if tolerated well this will be repeated in the middle and upper meatuses on both sides. Most commonly, a course of 3 treatments separated by 2-5 days will be recommended, and if a reduction in symptoms is not achieved, treatment is discontinued. Further courses of treatment can be used as needed, or seasonally as indicated. (As shown in the picture from 1980 below, a mullet is also necessary)
This is thought to help address symptoms by increasing the opening to the sinuses to allow better drainage and airflow, reducing pressure. By improving blood and airflow to the affected tissues, this may promote healing and can have lasting effects. In such a way, conditions and symptoms that may be addressed with this technique include headache, congestion, vertigo, snoring, acute/chronic sinusitis, and ringing in the ears.
To be clear, the nasal specific is by no means a 100% cure all for the conditions listed. However, it may be a useful tool in addressing symptoms that may be attributed to swelling or inflammation in the paranasal sinuses.
This technique is not appropriate in patients with bleeding disorders, those with a history of nasal surgery, a recent nasal/facial fracture, or a history of cocaine use. Common side effects are epistaxis (nosebleed), mild facial soreness and post-nasal drip for 24-48 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does it feel like?
A: The insertion part feels exactly like a covid test, which we’ve all had many of by now. The inflation part will often be described like a pressure, similar to diving deep in a pool.
Q: Are you actually allowed to do this?!
A: Yes. This is completely within our scope as chiropractors in Alberta. According to our regulations item 13(b, ii): a regulated member may, in the practice of chiropractic and in accordance with the standards of practice perform the following activities: insert or remove instruments, devices or fingers beyond the point in the nasal passages where they normally narrow.
Not many chiropractors continue to practice it after they’ve been trained in school, but a few of us at breathe use it regularly.
Q: Oh my god, gross! I would never let someone do this to me!
A: Ok, cool. We won’t do it then.
“I’ve suffered from horrible congestion and environmental allergies my whole life. Add on minor sleep apnea and you have a party. Unable to sleep with a C-PAP machine I sought out alternative ways to help battle my conditions. The nose balloon adjustment definitely outweighed the nerves I had going into treatment. On the level of pain from 1-10 it was either a 1 or less. It just felt like pressure for a second and then release. Immediately after I could breathe perfectly fine out of my nose like I’ve never before. I followed up for 3 treatments in total over 2 weeks and I haven’t had any issues with my environmental allergies since. It’s improved my sleep quality and I no longer snore as well. I now just have it done once every 6-8 months. Best thing you could ever try hands down!” – Dustin R.
“The nasal specific has been a game changing treatment, especially for sinus pressure and face pain that happens when the seasons change. It has also been great for jaw clenching/teeth grinding and headaches. It’s weird, but it works!” – Sean M.
“I’ve always had bad sinuses – when I have a cold, my head feels 5 lbs heavier, but even in my day to day I struggle with congestion and sinus headaches. This began to affect my sleep (unable to breathe through one or both sides) and I was at a loss. During a backcountry hike, a friend recommended the nasal specific by her chiropractor. I booked in and over the months I noticed both immediate and ongoing improvements to my breathing. We would usually book 3 sessions over the course of a week – with adjustments to number of pumps or number of layered balloons, I would leave the clinic with immediate release of pressure. Over the months, I was able to extend the length between my appointments to the point that the need is about twice a year. We like to joke that she knows when the weather pressure is changing when she sees me on her booking list, but I’ve experienced a drastic change to my sinuses and literally breathe better.” – Becca R.
“As someone who struggles with headaches and migraines – particularly, those brought on by environmental barometric pressure changes – I have searched for any kind of relief. Beyond pharmaceutical options, the only successful treatment I have found is the nasal specific. Though it seems unconventional, I have found no method of care has been more effective in helping me live a regular day-to-day life during seasonal changes and allergy season. The promotion of proper breathing also helps with gaining deep breaths during exercise and limits snoring during the evenings. During treatment, any discomfort is truly, minimal; similar to jumping into the deep end of a pool, you feel a pressure change within your head. Painless, quick, and effective means it is something I will use long term and continue to recommend to others.” – Jesse J.