Being stuffed up sucks. Ever wonder why it seems like one nostril feels way more clogged than the other? It’s not just your imagination: There’s a scientific reason behind it.
Credit a physiological response called the nasal cycle, a process where your nostrils take turns sucking in more air, says Rachel Roditi, M.D., a surgeon in the division of otolaryngology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Here’s why your nostrils play tag team—and what you can do when one side’s all jammed up.
Why One Nostril Gets More Congested
Structures in both sides of your nose called inferior turbinates are responsible for warming and humidifying air before it reaches your lungs, says Dr. Roditi. This protects your lungs by reducing dryness and irritation.
That process is a lot of work. So your nose funnels its resources more to one side than the other to make the process more