Why Does Only One Nostril Get Clogged When You’re Sick?
Have you ever wondered why only one nostril seems to be perpetually blocked when you catch a cold or suffer from
allergies? It’s a common phenomenon that often leaves us puzzled. So, let’s dive into the science behind this
Our nasal passages are composed of two nasal cavities separated by a septum. Each nostril has a complex network
of blood vessels and erectile tissue known as turbinates. These turbinates help to humidify, filter, and warm
the air we breathe before it reaches the lungs.
When you’re sick or encounter an allergen, your body’s immune response triggers inflammation in the nasal
passages. This inflammation causes the blood vessels in one nostril to dilate, producing excess mucus and
leading to congestion. At the same time, the blood vessels in the other nostril constrict, allowing for easier
breathing. The nasal cycle phenomenon, which is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, alternates between
which nostril is more open and which one is more congested.
This nasal cycling is thought to be an evolutionary mechanism that assists in various functions. It helps to
balance the workload of each nostril, preventing fatigue and ensuring both nostrils function optimally. It’s
also believed to improve our sense of smell by exposing each nostril to different scents.
External factors such as body position and the time of day can influence which nostril is more congested. For
instance, lying down on one side can cause the lower nostril to become more blocked due to gravitational
Although having one nostril constantly clogged can be irritating, it’s usually a temporary condition caused by
illness or allergies. If you experience chronic or severe congestion, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare
professional to rule out any underlying issues.
So, next time you wonder why only one nostril is giving you trouble, remember that it’s your body’s way of
maintaining a delicate balance and ensuring optimal nasal function. Take good care of your health, and bid
farewell to these temporary inconveniences swiftly!