Do Nasal Dilators Really Work?

Article excerpt

It seems that no one can quite account for those peculiar little nose strips. Time and time again, researchers have claimed to offer definitive findings either supporting or debunking the efficacy of the nasal dilator, the band-aid-like strip that some athletes wear on their noses in the hopes that it will facilitate their breathing and enhance their performance. Taken as a whole, however, the evidence is anything but definitive.

One of the most recent volleys was fired by researchers at Florida Atlantic University, who announced in the March 2001 Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise that wearing the strips "does not significantly reduce the work of breathing during exercise." This conclusion seemingly strengthens the position of those who argue that the strips do not improve athletic performance. The study involved 14 healthy men and women wearing either genuine or placebo dilators during cycle-ergometer exercise. Their respiratory muscles were monitored during the exercise tests, along with factors such as power output, [VO.sub.2] max, and heart rate. The researchers found no significant differences in any of these factors between those subjects wearing the placebo strips and those wearing the active strips.

Past researchers have come to the same conclusions regarding the physiological effects of dilators. Yet similar double-blind, placebo-controlled, cycle-ergometer studies have found that dilators do in fact improve certain metabolic variables, particularly heart rate and post-exercise recovery. …