Yoga & Fitness

What It Means To Have A One-Sided Blocked Nose: Possible Causes To Consider

A blocked nose can be extremely uncomfortable, especially if it occurs only on one side. In general, nasal congestion occurs when the nasal passages become swollen or inflamed, leading to difficulty breathing through the nose. It is often caused by colds, allergies, or sinus infections and is treated with Oover-the-Ccounter (OTC) antihistamines, decongestants, or steam inhalation. However, in cases where a stuffy nose occurs just on one side, there could be several other reasons behind it. Speaking with the OnlyMyHealth team, Dr Girija Ghate, Consultant- ENT, Manipal Hospital, Baner, Pune, sheds light on the same.

Also Read: Stuffy Nose At Night: Why Do I Get Nasal Congestion Before Bed

Do Not Ignore Other Symptoms

Before we understand the causes of a unilateral nasal congestion (one-sided blocked nose), let’s take a look at the symptoms that can also accompany the nasal congestion. These include:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Excessive sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Changes to your sense of smell
  • Itchiness in the throat, nose, and eyes
  • Snoring and sleep disturbances
  • Bleeding from the nose
  • Headaches and sinus infections
  • Changes to your voice

These symptoms, together with a clinical examination by an ENT specialist, can give a clue for a diagnosis and help provide a treatment approach, suggests Dr Ghate.

Depending on the kind of discomfort you experience with a one-sided stuffy nose, here are some of the possible causes to note:

Nasal Cycle

It might come as a surprise to many, but a one-sided clogged nose is a normal part of the cycle that our nose follows.

“Normally, at rest, we breathe only through one nostril at any given point in time. After 4-6 hours, the other side takes over, and the first one rests. This is the natural nasal cycle, in which case the nasal blockage will always alternate between two sides and will never be continuously felt on one side only.”

Deviated Nasal Septum

If you have one-sided nasal congestion or find it particularly difficult to breathe from just one side of your nose, then it could be a result of a deviated septum.

The condition occurs when the cartilage or bone in between the two nostrils is out of shape or bent, which causes one nasal passage to be smaller than the other and more easily blocked, explains Dr Ghate.

While the symptoms are less significant during a cold or allergies, a large Korean health survey published in Sage Journals found a link between a deviated septum and various health problems. Researchers suggested that those with troublesome nasal blockages were nearly three times more likely to have asthma. This suggests that obstructive NSD might specifically contribute to asthma risk, while regular NSD without blockage does not seem to affect overall health.

Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps are benign growths inside the nostril that are a result of either repeated sinus infections or allergies, says Dr Ghate.

They can develop either on one side or both sides of the nostrils, leading to blocked noses and breathing problems.

An X-ray and a CT scan can easily diagnose the extent and type of polyp, and these can be treated with medicines but may require surgery in certain cases.

Enlarged Adenoids

Adenoids are tiny tissues located at the extreme back of the nasal cavity, near the throat. According to Dr Ghate, they play a vital role in immune system function by trapping germs that enter the body through the nose.

In situations where adenoids become enlarged on one side, they can lead to one-sided issues such as nasal congestion and breathing difficulties.

Also Read: 5 Ayurvedic Home Remedies to Cure Nasal Congestion

Rhinolith/Foreign Body

Another common cause of a one-sided stuffy nose is rhinoliths, which are mineralised foreign bodies in the nasal cavity that are very rare. According to a study published in the journal Imaging Science in Dentistry, the condition has a prevalence of one in every 10,000 patients who visit the outpatient units of ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist treatment centres.

Dr Ghate says, “Many times, children tend to put various objects in their nostrils. If unnoticed, they can stay in the nose for a long time and then form a hard stone-like mass called rhinolith.”

He adds, “These generally give rise to nasal blockage on one side only. This is seen mainly in children and has other symptoms like pain and swelling over the nose, nasal discharge, or occasionally bleeding from the nose.”

Tumours

If you have a blocked nose on one side of your nostrils, then it is also advisable to get yourself examined for benign as well as cancerous tumours.

As per Dr Ghate, cancerous tumours tend to grow fast over a period of days to weeks, and nasal blockages are likely to be accompanied by bleeding from the nose, a reduced sense of smell, and continuous nasal discharge.

How To Relieve Blocked Nose?

When it comes to dealing with a blocked nose, some simple home remedies can help. These include:

  • Sleeping with the head in an elevated position
  • Nasal washes or rinses
  • Vacuum-cleaned mattresses and bedding
  • Avoiding exposure to allergens

If the nasal blockage still persists, it’s better to see an ENT specialist, advised Dr Ghate. This can be followed by a nasal endoscopy, X-ray, or CT scan, which can help you get a conclusive diagnosis.

In cases of allergies, adenoids, and polyps, medicines can be tried and results assessed after a few weeks. If nasal blockage still continues, surgery may be considered.

In cases of deviated nasal septums or tumours, as well as rhinoliths, surgery (open or endoscopic) is the main option of treatment, Dr Ghate added, sharing that seeing your ENT specialist is extremely necessary before making any decisions.


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