What Causes a Clogged Nostril?

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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
  • Edited By: S. Pike
  • Last Modified Date: 07 February 2019
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A clogged nostril can have a variety of causes, including allergies, the common cold, a deviated septum, or an inflammatory sinus infection. Many people with congested nostrils have temporary infections, which typically resolve themselves within a relatively short time. Contrary to common belief, excessive mucus is not a main cause of a clogged nostril. Swelling of the sinuses due to inflamed blood vessels is most often the underlying cause. Treatment for a blocked nostril usually depends on the related condition that a medical professional diagnoses.

Congested and inflamed sinuses are closely tied to viral or bacterial infections as well as to environmental allergens. Some doctors list sensitivities to certain airborne fungi as another possible cause. Sinusitis is a common term for this type of inflammation, and it is usually classified as chronic if it lasts longer than two months.

In more serious cases of blocked sinuses, an internal growth of tissue known as a polyp can also be a cause. Polyps can occur in one or both of the sinus cavities. When a deviated septum occurs, uneven nasal cartilage and bone can lead to insufficient drainage and a chronically clogged nostril. Both polyps and deviated septa often have congenital causes, and both can be corrected through nasal surgery when other types of treatment are ineffective at clearing the resulting congested nostrils.


Congested nostrils are a frequent complaint among allergy sufferers, and this congestion often indicates hay fever from an increased sensitivity to certain types of pollen from blooming trees or grass. Hay fever is also known as allergic rhinitis; it can affect both adults and children and is especially prevalent during the spring and summer months. The symptoms of this allergic condition can usually be managed well enough through lifestyle changes that minimize the exposure to pollen, though more serious cases are often treated with various antihistamine or decongestant drugs. Since a clogged nostril and allergies can interfere with day-to-day life in the most severe occurrences, allergy immunizations can sometimes be needed to relieve this kind of nostril blockage.

A baby with a clogged nostril can be more of a cause for concern if this symptom persists over more than a brief time period. Particularly infants younger than three months old need to breathe naturally through their noses as much as possible. Causes of a baby's clogged nostril are usually colds, though some babies are as sensitive as some adults to environmental allergens.



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