Why Does Only One Nostril Get Clogged When You’re Sick?
Have you ever noticed that when you catch a cold or suffer from allergies, only one nostril tends to get clogged while the other remains relatively clear? It’s a strange phenomenon, but there is a scientific explanation behind it.
Your nasal passages consist of two main nasal cavities separated by a thin wall called the septum. Within each cavity, you have three structures known as turbinates, which are responsible for warming, humidifying, and filtering the air before it reaches your lungs. The turbinates are lined with tiny blood vessels and are covered in a layer of sensitive tissue known as nasal mucosa.
When you’re ill, whether it’s due to a cold, flu, or allergies, your immune system goes into action to fight off the infection or allergens. As a result, your nasal mucosa becomes inflamed, causing increased blood flow to the affected nostril’s turbinates. This increased blood flow causes the turbinates on that side to swell, thus blocking the airflow through that particular nostril.
But why do the turbinates on one side get inflamed while the other remains relatively unaffected? This phenomenon known as nasal cycle is a normal physiological process. Throughout the day, your nostrils take turns being the dominant breather. The dominance switches every few hours, and the turbinates on the dominant side swell, slightly reducing the airflow. This cyclic process serves to moisten and protect the nasal passages.
When you’re sick, the nasal cycle often becomes more noticeable. The inflamed nasal mucosa in the congested nostril further narrows the air passage, exacerbating the feeling of a stuffy or clogged nose.
Although it can be frustrating to experience nasal congestion, understanding the underlying mechanisms can provide some reassurance. Additionally, using over-the-counter decongestants or nasal sprays, taking steam showers, or applying warm compresses to the affected nostril can help alleviate the discomfort and promote the return of normal breathing.
Remember, a congested nostril is usually a temporary condition and part of your body’s defense mechanism. If your symptoms persist or worsen, it’s always advisable to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Stay healthy and breathe easy!
We’ve all experienced it: when we’re feeling sick, whether from a cold or developing sinus infection, our nose starts acting up. We get congested and might find that only one nostril is partially or completely blocked. But why is this?
The answer goes back to a process known as the nasal cycle, which is a natural fluctuation of airflow that occurs every few hours. During this cycle, one nostril becomes smaller and more congested than the other, while the other nostril remains open and unblocked.
The nasal cycle is regulated by the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for controlling the body’s automatic functions. It is believed that when we are sick, the sympathetic nervous system is hyperactivated, resulting in increased congestion in the nasal passages, which can trap mucus and debris. As a result, only one nostril will become congested.
In addition to increased congestion, this nasal congestion can also be a sign of swelling and obstruction due to inflammation or infection. When this happens, the mucus can become thicker and the nostrils can become blocked.
The good news is that this blockage is temporary and can usually be relieved with over-the-counter medicines, such as nasal decongestants or a nose spray. If the symptoms are severe and persist for more than a few days, it is important to see a doctor for further evaluation as this may be a sign of a more serious infection or disease.
Overall, uncovering the mystery behind why one nostril gets blocked when we are sick can be attributed to a combination of the nasal cycle and increased congestion due to inflammation or infection. But regardless of the cause, this blockage is usually temporary and can be relieved with the help of over-the-counter medications.