What is Cottle’s Maneuver?

Try this Do-it-yourself diagnostic procedure for assessing nasal obstruction/congestion

Things Cottle's Maneuver is NOT:

  • It is NOT a Revolutionary War tactic used by the patriots to outwit English Cavalry
  • It is NOT a classic opening gambit in a chess match
  • It is NOT a tricky football play like the quarterback sneak

What Cottle's Maneuver IS:

Formally speaking, Cottle's Maneuver is a subjective test of nasal obstruction, during which the nasal valve is widened via lateral traction on the cheek allowing the subject to indicate the degree of nasal obstruction prior to and after the maneuver. (From the Encyclopedia of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery)

In everyday language, Cottle's Maneuver is a do-it-yourself diagnostic procedure that will help you focus on and understand the nature of your nasal obstruction, and help indicate a remedy that might permanently relieve such common obstruction causes as Nasal Valve Collapse. DO TRY THIS AT HOME!

What does it prove?

Cottle's maneuver is intended to help focus on the where in the nasal airway your congestion is centered. The possibilities are several: congestion can be caused by enlarged nasal turbinates, collapsed nasal valves, a damaged, deviated septum (the ridge of cartilage that separates your nostrils, from nose tip to bridge), or a sinus condition that affects the nasal passages.

How do I perform Cottle's Maneuver?

Place one or two finger tips on your cheeks on either side of your nose. Gently, press and pull outward. This temporarily opens the nasal valve. If doing this helps you inhale more easily through your nose, the nasal obstruction is likely to be in the nasal valve, in the front part of your nose.

What do I do next?

See your doctor, describe your congestion, and demonstrate the congestion-relieving Cottle's maneuver. Your doctor (or possibly Otolaryngologist that your doctor refers you to) may choose to confirm the diagnosis with a modified Cottle's maneuver assessment that uses either a long handled cotton swab or a slim metal curette inserted into your nostril. DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME.

Your doctor will help with a detailed diagnosis, and help you decide what treatment is appropriate, whether functional rhinoplasty, turbinate reduction, a septoplasty procedure to correct a crooked septum, or an office procedure to reshape the tissue of the nasal valve to prevent collapse.


All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Every patient's case is unique and each patient should follow his or her doctor's specific instructions. Please discuss nutrition, medication and treatment options with your doctor to make sure you are getting the proper care for your particular situation. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

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2018-02-05T21:42:45+00:00