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Do You Breathe Through Only One Nostril? ENT Specialist Explains Possible Reasons

In this condition, a person gets a blocked nose on one or both sides or keeps alternating, which can be from childhood or develop later in life.

Varun Verma
Written by: Varun VermaUpdated at: Jan 04, 2023 08:00 IST
Do You Breathe Through Only One Nostril? ENT Specialist Explains Possible Reasons

In general, a person should be able to breathe well through both nostrils. Breathing is a natural process, but people can experience a change in their breathing pattern due to several reasons. The nasal cavity is separated by the nasal septum, which is a framework of bone and cartilage—the nasal septum helps in keeping the nose in shape. The nasal pathway also contains other cells, helping warm and filter the air.

Sometimes, a person gets a blocked nose on one side or both sides, or it keeps alternating. A person may experience this from childhood or develop over a few years or months or maybe a few days later in life. These can be due to nasal issues such as a stuffy nose or accidental insertion of a foreign particle in the nostril. To know more about the reasons that make a person breathe through only one nostril, the OnlyMyHealth editorial team talked to Dr Devkumar Rengaraja, Consultant ENT & Skull Base Surgeon, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi.

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Nose Block Conditions In Children

Children can experience a nose block or congestion only in one of their nostrils. According to Dr Rengaraja, if the nose block in a child is unilateral, it could be because of a foreign body that the child has accidentally inserted into the nostril. This serious issue requires immediate consultation with an ENT specialist and further treatment.

In cases where the child perpetually breathes through the mouth due to a nose block, it can be associated with snoring. It can also be due to Adenoid Hypertrophy, which is the unusual growth of the pharyngeal tonsil. To rule out this condition, an ENT consultation is required.

Nose Block Conditions In Adolescents & Adults

Adolescents and adults might also experience nasal congestion predominantly on one side. They can happen because they may have a blockage in the internal nasal valve, often caused by a Deviated Nasal Septum, which is a condition in which the nasal bone is crooked. This blockage may also be, at times, associated with Inferior Turbinate Hypertrophy (oversized turbinates that are usually tiny).

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The other scenario in which one experiences nose block is associated with headache and, at times, loss of smell is Nasal Polyposis (which can be unilateral or bilateral). In such situations, getting an ENT consultation becomes imperative as it can be allergic, infective, fungal in origin, or even rarely malignant, added Dr Rengaraja.

Nose Block Conditions In Senior Citizens

He further stated that if an elderly patient complains of a nasal block, this can be associated with nasal bleeding or loss of smell. These symptoms should never be ignored but be addressed at the earliest. This is because Sinonasal Malignancy is not a rare entity in the ageing population.

When To See A Doctor?

In case you experience nasal congestion or obstruction that interferes with your breathing and daily life, the immediate step is to seek the advice of an ENT specialist to get a thorough diagnosis and treatment.

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