Introduction: Athletes and coaches have begun to use external nasal dilators with the perception that they enhance performance and make it "easier to breathe." This study was conducted to ascertain whether application of an external nasal dilator would enhance performance, as measured by maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), maximal ventilation (V(Emax)), maximal work rate (Wr(max)) or ratings of perceived exertion and dyspnea (RPE, RPD).
Methods: Fifteen subjects (F = 10; M = 5: age, 20+/-1.4, mean +/- SD) performed three incremental exercise tests to fatigue on an ergometer at 1-wk intervals in randomized order. One test was conducted without a nasal dilator, using a nose clip and mouthpiece for oxygen uptake and ventilatory measurements (control, C). The other two tests used a Rudolph 8900 breathing mask that included the nose in the breathing circuit and subjects wore either a placebo (P) or the active dilator (A). RPE for total body (20-point scale) and for dyspnea (10-point scale) were also measured on all tests.
Results: There were no significant differences in VO2max (mean +/- SD; C = 3.12+/-1.1; P = 3.12 + 1.06; A = 3.04+/-0.94). V(Emax) (C = 117+/-26; P = 125+/-31; A = 122+/-26), Wr(max) (C = 256+/-73; P = 255+/-70; A = 257+/-74), RPE (C = 18.8+/-1.78; P = 18.9+/-1.33; A = 18.9+/-1.22), or RPD (C = 9.1+/-1.58; P = 9.3+/-1.2; A = 9.13+/-1.2) during exercise between any group.
Conclusion: Thus, it is concluded that an external nose dilator does not enhance performance as measured by VO2max, V(Emax), Wr(max), or perceived performance as measured by RPE and RPD.