Published Nov 16, 2020
Whenever any part of our body produces weird noises, it can be disconcerting. These sounds typically tell us that there’s something that needs fixing. One of those sounds is a whistle coming from the nose, and while it may come off as entertaining at first, it’s usually a symptom of an underlying cause or condition. But what causes that whistling in my nose, and how do I get rid of it? Read on to find out more.
Why Does My Nose Whistle?
A whistling sound usually occurs when air passes through a narrow opening and creates vibrations. This is why we purse our lips when we whistle. The same principle applies to your nose.
Basically, the whistling in your nose happens when your nasal airways become narrow and constricted. As you breathe, the air flows from your lungs out into your nose. But if your nasal airways are constricted, the opening for the air to get out of is much smaller. This causes the air molecules to pile up on top of each other which, in turn, creates vibrations. In short, the whistling sound you hear is the sound of air escaping from your nose.
Nose whistling is pretty common and almost everyone experiences it every now and then. But as mentioned, a persistent whistling sound coming from your nose might be a sign of a more serious respiratory problem.
Common Causes of Whistling Noses
Whistling noses aren’t usually a cause for concern as they typically go away on their own. But if the whistling in your nose persists for a time, it could be due to the following underlying causes:
When our noses are healthy, air freely passes in and out of our nasal passages. This results in comfortable, and barely even noticeable, breathing. But human as we are, it’s inevitable for infections to strike us. When infections hit our nose and sinuses, the nasal mucosa (the normally thin and moist lining in our sinuses) becomes inflamed, causing an unnecessary mucus buildup to occur. This buildup causes congestion in your nasal passages and narrows the airways creating a whistling sound.
Nasal polyps are non-cancerous growths on the linings of your nose and sinuses. As these growths become bigger, they also block your nasal passages forcing the air to escape through narrow openings.
Problems with the Septum
The septum is the cartilage in the nose that separates the nostrils from one another. In a healthy and typical nose, it sits firmly at the center, dividing both sides evenly. But being a cartilage, the septum is vulnerable to getting damaged, which can lead to health issues and negatively impact your quality of life.
One possible complication is a deviated septum. A deviated septum is when the septum is glaringly uneven, rendering one nostril larger than the other. This can result in breathing difficulties and is another possible cause for your nose to whistle. However, not all cases of deviated septum are the same. Some may be congenital, meaning people were born with it, which may not significantly affect their lives. Some deviated septum cases, however, are caused by nose injuries resulting from accidents.
However, another equally likely possibility for the whistling sound is a perforated septum. Septal perforation happens when a hole develops in your septum. It has a wide array of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. In many cases, these symptoms vary according to the size of the hole. When air travels from one nostril to the other through this hole, it creates the whistling sound that you hear.
To stop your nose from whistling, you need to tackle the underlying cause behind it. Depending on your medical condition, the treatment can range from home remedies to sinus surgeries.
Nasal congestion is typically caused by sinus infections, colds, or allergies. Most of the time, this can be treated with over-the-counter medications and home remedies such as:
- using a humidifier
- taking a hot shower
- constant hydration
- nasal irrigation
- warm compress (on sinuses)
- nasal steroid spray
- nasal strips
Unlike common sinus infections, a deviated or perforated septum can’t be treated with home remedies or OTC medications. Nasal structure problems like this usually require surgery.
One of the most common surgeries performed for a deviated septum is septoplasty. This operation involves inserting a splint into your nose to straighten your septum. But if surgery is not your thing, there are also minimally-invasive procedures like balloon sinuplasty and endoscopic septoplasty.
For a perforated septum, one nonsurgical treatment method is plugging the hole with a prosthetic button. Your doctor may fill that hole in by using local anesthesia. However, if doctors deem it fit, you may need more aggressive treatment to plug up the hole. In some cases, you may have to undergo a type of surgery where a doctor uses cartilage from other parts of your body to patch up that hole.
When to See a Doctor
In most cases, a whistling nose is manageable and may only cause slight discomfort. But once it starts to affect your breathing and general wellbeing, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor at once.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a firm believer in the health benefits of probiotics and she wants to share that with the world. She also loves to write about healthy foods and other healthy living tips.