Why Can't I Breathe Through My Nose?

person holding nose

It can be very uncomfortable when, for whatever reason, you can’t breathe through your nose. Although various factors can contribute to this issue, the good news is that most of them are treatable! Let’s take a deeper dive into the potential answers to the question you may be asking: “why can’t I breathe through my nose?”

Seasonal Allergies

Strong winds can carry common allergy-causing particles such as dust, grass spores, and pollen to new locations. Oftentimes, you may be exposed to them, causing allergic reactions. This can be especially true for sensitive individuals. For example, those who are sensitive to pollen may suffer several symptoms after accidentally inhaling such particles, more often in the Spring.

You may experience discomfort exclusively in one or more seasons of the year, largely due to the prevalence of certain particles throughout the year. Over-the-counter antihistamines or other medication may help reduce symptoms. However, for long-term allergy management, you may need to visit an allergist or physician. A doctor can identify the exact cause of your seasonal allergies through allergy testing. Once they’re identified, allergy injections or prescribed drugs can help control your symptoms.

Deviated Septum

The thin wall that divides each nostril in your nose is called the nasal septum. A deviated septum bends more to one side than the other, which can obstruct airflow while breathing through the nose. Surgeons usually use septoplasty surgery to correct deviated septums, which can arise from congenital disabilities or nasal trauma.

A deviated septum may not directly cause sleep apnea, but it can negatively impact general health and make nasal breathing more difficult at night. It's critical to get a deviated septum examined if you notice constant breathing difficulties and nasal discomfort.

Collapsed Nasal Valve

When your nasal valve collapses, it can make you feel as though something is obstructing your ability to breathe. In addition to scar tissue from prior nose surgery, nasal valve collapse can also be brought on by weakness or injury to the nose.

You must determine the initial reason for your nasal valve collapse before coming up with a treatment plan. After determining the cause, surgery or LATERA implants could be viable choices for treatment.

Chronic Rhinitis

Chronic rhinitis causes swelling of the turbinates and irritation of the nasal mucosa. It affects the ability to breathe. Turbinates are structures located in the nostrils. The center, which is made of bone, serves to filter, warm, and moisturize the air we breathe. It ensures that it reaches our lungs in the best possible state. Respiratory nasal trouble is brought on by turbinate hypertrophy or an increase in size, particularly in the inferior turbinates.

With the swelling of the turbinates, there may be reduced breathing room. Sneezing, nasal irritation, reduced smell, and clear mucus (runny nose) are common symptoms in addition to poor nasal breathing. Most of the time, allergies are the root cause of persistent Rhinitis. Allergies can happen at any time of the year because of dust mites and other factors. However, they are more common in the spring because of pollen (hay fever).

Nasal Polyps

Persistent inflammation from allergies and constant sinus infections causes swollen nasal polyps. It can block your airway and make breathing difficult, particularly when you’re trying to breathe through the nose. Surgery, balloon sinuplasty, or corticosteroids can all be used to treat nasal polyps.

Sick with a Cold

Your nose acts as a front-line soldier. In many cases, it takes the lead. Harmful viruses can enter your body through your nose, which has two open nostrils that allow air to enter. When your body’s immune response activates, your nasal passageways may become inflamed, making it more difficult to breathe from your nose.

There are numerous medications available to relieve the nasal symptoms of a cold. In fact, many helpful medications are labeled with "relieve stuffy nose" or something of that nature. Moreover, to reduce nasal channel swelling, try using a fine-mist nasal spray.

Chronic Sinusitis

Recurrent sinusitis is an unwanted present that never seems to stop. You could feel ill for five to ten days after catching a cold. Even with immediate medication, persistent sinusitis can make breathing through your nose difficult for up to 12 weeks.

An infection could be one possible cause of sinus swelling. Consult your primary care physician, particularly if you're experiencing headaches, ear pain, a sore throat, a runny nose, or pain around your eyes for an extended period of time. To get rid of it and make breathing easier, you might need to take antibiotics or other prescription medications.

Anatomical Obstruction

Adults with broad necks who are overweight may have difficulty breathing at night due to anatomical obstruction. Meanwhile, swollen adenoids and tonsils may cause problems for children.

An excessively large soft palate or uvula in certain individuals can exacerbate sleep apnea and snoring. Other ENT airway impediments, such as nasal polyps and deformities of the nose's bony structure, can also disrupt sleep.

Pet Allergies

Some individuals may also suffer from allergies to certain proteins in animal skin cells, saliva, or urine. Oftentimes, a stuffed nose may be a major symptom of pet allergies – especially to cats and dogs. Luckily, there are several ways to deal with your pet allergies, both naturally and with the help of medications or specialized products.

While the best thing you can do is avoid contact with the source of your allergies, you can also improve your cleaning habits, have better grooming habits, and start to use air filters. For more information, take a look at our article about natural remedies you can take to address your pet-related allergies! You can also opt to use medications such as antihistamines for your cat and dog allergies. 

If you’re looking for a more specialized approach, consider Pacagen’s Cat Allergen Neutralizing Spray and Dog Allergen Neutralizing Spray (Coming Soon!). This product proactively addresses the cause of your symptoms by neutralizing the allergy-causing particles in a way that’s safe for both yourself and your pets.


In conclusion, allergies, deviated septums, and a host of other conditions can cause problems with nasal breathing. Addressing the cause depends on effective therapy, whether it be medication, surgery, or allergy control. Seeking professional advice is oftentimes necessary to restore normal and unhindered nasal breathing.