Q: Why do I sometimes get congested in one nostril?
A: Many people don’t realize that every four to six hours, one side of the nose becomes more congested, and the other side decongests. They switch back and forth in a normal cycle.
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If one side is more obstructed to begin with from a deviated septum or swelling of the soft tissue structures, it will be more noticeable when that side decongests.
Here are other reasons for congestion in one nostril:
- Side sleeping. People also experience stuffiness in the nostril that faces down when they sleep on their side.
- Deviated septum. If you have blockage that is continuous, it could be a result of a deviated septum.
- Inflammation and nasal polyps. There are people who have chronic inflammation and nasal polyps. In rare cases, this can be due to a tumor, but these are uncommon. Chronic and persistent obstruction on one side should be evaluated by a doctor, and probably an ENT (otolaryngologist).
- Foreign objects in the nose. In small children, blockage in one nostril might be due to a foreign body that they put in their nose. If you see thick drainage or pus coming out, it’s time to call your doctor.
— ENT-otolaryngologist Michael Benninger, MD