What to Do When You Can’t Breath Through Your Nose
Published April 1, 2022
The nose is the primary organ we use for breathing. But when our nasal airways are obstructed, breathing can be difficult. If you’re having trouble breathing through your nose, this post is for you.
Common Causes of Clogged Nose
There are a lot of factors that can make it hard for you to breathe through your nose. So to figure out how you can breathe freely again, you first need to understand why your nose is clogged.
As you know, the inside of our nose is like a vast cave with different cavities. It is through these openings that air passes from the outside and into our lungs. When these cavities are clogged, the air cannot pass through making breathing difficult.
In general, there are two common causes of a clogged nose: chronic sinusitis and nasal obstructions.
Sinusitis is a condition where the lining of your nasal cavities or sinuses becomes inflamed. As a result, they swell up and block your airways.
Some of the most common symptoms of sinusitis are:
- clogged and stuffy nose
- nasal inflammation
- postnasal drainage (drainage down the back of your throat)
- reduced or total loss of sense of smell and taste
- thick discharge from the nose
- pain, tenderness, and swelling around the eyes, cheeks, and nose
- ear pain
- sore throat
- pain in the upper jaw and teeth
- bad breath
Most cases of sinusitis are caused by a viral infection that spread to the sinuses from the upper airways. But there are also other factors that can cause your sinuses to get inflamed such as:
- weakened immune system
Certain medical conditions like allergic rhinitis, asthma, and hay fever may also cause sinus inflammation.
Nasal obstructions are structural abnormalities in the nasal cavities that cause blockage in your airways. This includes:
- Inferior turbinate hypertrophy. This happens when the tissue on the outside walls of the nasal cavities is too large that it causes an obstruction.
- Deviated septum. It’s a condition where the cartilage in the middle of the nose is crooked or not in its normal position. This blocks the normal flow of air in your nose making breathing difficult.
- Oversized adenoids. Adenoids are tiny pieces of tissue that hang above your tonsils at the back of your throat. They usually shrink as you grow old. But when they’re infected, they can grow in size and clog your nasal airways.
- Nasal valve collapse. Your nasal valve is the narrowest part of your nasal airway. It regulates the amount of air that flows through your nasal cavities. When it collapses, the narrow valve will become even narrower until the airways are completely blocked.
Nasal polyps. These are painless and often noncancerous growths lining the inside of your nasal passageways. These growths can also restrict airflow in your cavities making it hard for you to breathe.
What To Do If You Have Trouble Breathing Through Your Nose
The first thing to do when you can’t breathe through your nose is to figure out why. Each of the causes mentioned above requires different treatments and diagnoses. If you know why your nose is clogged, then finding the appropriate treatment will be a lot easier.
Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may recommend the following treatments:
Prescription and Over-the-counter Medicines
Chronic sinus inflammations caused by factors other than structural problems are usually treated with medications like:
- antihistamine medications
- steroid nasal sprays
- antifungal medications
- allergy shots (immunotherapy)
For symptoms that aren’t so severe, home remedies like the following may also suffice:
- nasal irrigation (you can use a neti pot and fill it with saltwater)
- vitamin C-rich foods and supplements
- air humidifier
- hot bath or breathing in steam vapors
- drinking a lot of water
- plenty of rest
For sinus conditions caused by bacterial infections, probiotics can help.
If you didn’t know, our body has plenty of natural bacteria living within it. They can be either harmful or beneficial. When there’s an imbalance in your body’s bacterial population, the bad ones tend to take over. This leads to various health concerns like inflamed sinuses and a weakened immune system.
Probiotics help restore this balance by replenishing your body’s population of beneficial bacteria. With more good bacteria to fight the bad ones, the inflammation in your sinuses can be reduced.
Make sure to choose probiotic supplements with strains that are specifically targeted for nasal problems. This includes strains like Streptococcus salivarius K12 (BLIS K12) and L. rhamnosus which are scientifically proven to be effective against bacteria that cause respiratory infections.
If your nasal blockage is due to structural problems in your nose, your doctor will most likely recommend surgery. Some of the most common surgical procedures to relieve nasal blockages are:
- septoplasty (for deviated septum)
- adenoid removal
- balloon sinuplasty
- turbinate reduction surgery
- nasal polypectomy
When to See Your Doctor
Ideally, you should see your doctor before starting any treatment. They can help you determine what causes the blockage in your nose. So you won’t have to waste your time and money on treatments that don’t work.
If your symptoms have become chronic or the pain has become unbearable, then you should definitely see your doctor today.
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This Content Has Been Reviewed For Factual Accuracy
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a professional writer based in the Philippines. Her commitment to communicating factual content in when writing is unmatched. She works hard to cross check reputable sources to ensure her work uses accurate facts.