Why do your nostrils feel tight? (+3 reasons)

In this article, we will discuss the factors and reasons why you may get a feeling that your nostrils are tight. We will also discuss what you can do to get relief from such symptoms.

Why do your nostrils feel tight?

Your nostrils feel tight because of the narrowing of the nasal passage. The nasal passage may become narrow and constricted because of the following reasons:

  • Nasal structure,
  • Disease condition,
  • Medication side effects, and
  • Environmental factors.

Nostril tightening and narrowing may affect your breathing pattern. Sometimes the reason is not apparent, such as a deviated nasal septum. Therefore, if you get a persistent feeling of nostril tightness then you should consult your doctor immediately.

Nasal structure

Genetically narrow nostrils may cause tight feeling in the nostrils. However, because narrow nostrils are what you always had, you may not feel a difference. Still, you may experience breathing difficulties and loud breathing as compared to other individuals (1).

A deviated septum may cause tightness and narrowing of your nostrils. In the deviated septum, the bone and cartilage separating the nasal cavity is no longer straight. This makes one nostril feel tighter than the other one (2).

Nasal valve collapse may occur due to trauma to the nose, nasal reconstruction surgery, or burns. The most common cause of nasal valve collapse is the deviation of a septum. However, you may have nasal valve collapse due to genetics (3). 

You may have nasal collapse on both sides of your nose. This may cause nasal tightness or complete blockage. Another uncommon deformity of the nasal structure includes nasal stenosis. In this, the individual has an overprojecting nose with very narrow nostrils (4).

Disease condition

Sinusitis causes inflammation in the lining of the sinuses. This restricts the proper drainage of mucus in your nose and throat due to which you feel tightness in your nostril. It may occur due to a bacterial, viral or fungal infection.

Infections and allergies also put undue pressure on the sinus. This increases nasal inflammation and makes your nostrils feel tight. Chronic rhinosinusitis is also known to give a feeling of nostril tightness due to swelling and infection in the sinus.

Medication side effects

If you feel tightness in your nostrils without any evident nasal deformity, disease or environmental factor, then it means you are experiencing a drug side effect. Some of the drugs known to cause nasal obstruction and tightness include (4):

  • Antiinflammatory agents: Examples include aspirin, ibuprofen, flurbiprofen, ketoprofen, and diclofenac. 
  • Additives: Some additives and preservatives may cause nostrils to feel tight. Examples include benzalkonium chloride.
  • Peripheric vasodilators: These agents act on the distal blood vessels and help lower blood pressure. Examples include papaverine, nicorandil, and niacin.
  • Antihypertensive drugs: These agents may rarely give a feeling of nostril tightness. Examples include carvedilol, α-methyldopa, prazosin, terazosin, and mianserin.

Environmental factors

People often get seasonal allergic sinuitis due to pollen grains, grass and weeds that are abundant during the fall and spring seasons. You may feel tightness in your nostrils and nasal obstruction accompanied by sneezing, tearing of eyes, and other related symptoms.

Perineal allergic symptoms may persist throughout the year and occur due to animal dander, mould, and dust mites. Sometimes you may feel tightness in your nostrils due to car exhaust fumes, perfume, deodorant, industrial smoke, and tobacco smoke.

What does research suggest?

In one of the case reports, a 30-year-old woman presented with nasal stenosis and tightening of the nostrils due to three failed rhinoplasty surgeries for the aesthetic improvement of the nose structure. Earlobe composite graft and alar strut graft were done, followed by nostril retainers to fix the problem (5).

It is reported in the literature that some genetic syndrome may cause nasal deformities that may cause tightening of the nostrils. Such genetic syndromes include otofaciocervical syndrome, Crouzon syndrome, and Shprintzen syndrome (6).

In one of the clinical studies, 120 patients were evaluated to study the level of anxiety due to nostril tightening and obstruction. The group which had no nasal pathology experienced the same level of anxiety as compared to the nasal septum deviation group (7).

What are the effects of tight nostrils on breathing?

The severity of symptoms and health effects may vary between children and adults due to perception. Some of the symptoms common in adults include:

  • Difficulty in breathing, especially when working out,
  • Trouble sleeping due to breathing difficulty,
  • Sinus infection,
  • Loud breathing and snoring.

In addition to difficulty in breathing, trouble sleeping, and loud breathing, some other symptoms in children may also include:

  • Feeding difficulties,
  • Ear pain and discomfort,
  • Breathing through the mouth, and
  • Confusion.

How to manage and reduce nostril tightness?

Unfortunately, there is no permanent treatment for nostril tightness if it occurs due to a disease. However, the symptoms can be managed to relieve the nostril tightness. In case of deformities, surgical procedures may widen the nostrils and reduce the feeling of tightness.


Antihistamines are often prescribed to relieve the symptoms of allergies. Examples include cetirizine, loraditine, and fexofenadine. You can take 10 mg of loratadine in a day. You may also divide your dose by taking 5 mg of loraditine twice daily.

If you feel tightness in your nostril due to an infection, you may take azithromycin, amoxicillin, and levofloxacin. In patients who have severe allergies and sinus issues, they are prescribed doxycycline.

Most people with allergies, sinusitis and chronic rhinosinusitis get relief by irrigating their nasal passage with saline water.  You may use a Neti pot, squeezing bottle, or syringe to drain water from one side of your nostril to another.


Surgery is often recommended for nasal valve collapse. The surgeon may take cartilage from the nasal septum and use it to reinforce the nasal valve. A deviated septum can be corrected by septoplasty (8).

However, there are chances that you may get a deviated septum again (due to bone growth) if you have undergone surgery before turning 17 (9). Similarly, nasal stenosis rhinoplasty may widen the narrowed nostrils. It is also done as an aesthetic surgery to correct the look of naturally deformed nostrils. 

Nonsurgical procedures

The tightened nostril can also be widened with some nonsurgical procedures, including dermal filler, nose clips, and nose bridges. However, they are not as effective as surgical procedures and may only improve the aesthetics without treating the underlying cause (8).

I often feel tightness in my nostrils due to allergic rhinitis. I also suffer from deviated septum and was suggested surgery at the age of 20. However, I did not opt for the surgery. Even after 10 years, I am doing great and rarely encounter any problems.

However, if you feel that a deviated septum is disrupting your breathing and quality of life, opt for the surgical procedure. Always consult your doctor before taking any medicine or using a home remedy. Take your medicines on time and follow the dosage regimen.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!



Gupta P, Tripathi T, Singh N, Bhutiani N, Rai P, Gopal R. A review of genetics of nasal development and morphological variation. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. 2020 Apr;9(4):1825. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7346930/


Fettman N, Sanford T, Sindwani R. Surgical management of the deviated septum: techniques in septoplasty. Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America. 2009 Apr 1;42(2):241-52. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0030666509000085


Wittkopf M, Wittkopf J, Ries WR. The diagnosis and treatment of nasal valve collapse. Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery. 2008 Feb 1;16(1):10-3.https://journals.lww.com/co-otolaryngology/Fulltext/2008/02000/The_Spreader_Flap_in_Primary_Rhinoplasty.00004.aspx?casa_token=iNPCmQzXQxMAAAAA:IFuvhbhxB0tiPSG-lpVS97BAWWbaEiCxe_rC725n3zJDimy5Z7Q6_JfqaHQNX-AqeG-oxo-KmMf3tZ-EZSoNo-G3


Cingi C, Ozdoganoglu T, Songu M. Nasal obstruction as a drug side effect. Therapeutic advances in respiratory disease. 2011 Jun;5(3):175-82. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1753465811403348


Ebrahimi A, Shams A. Severe iatrogenic nostril stenosis. Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery. 2015 Sep;48(03):305-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4750266/


Gupta P, Tripathi T, Singh N, Bhutiani N, Rai P, Gopal R. A review of genetics of nasal development and morphological variation. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. 2020 Apr;9(4):1825. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7346930/


Akkoca Ö, Oğuz H, Ünlü CE, Aydın E, Ozdel K, Kavuzlu A. Association between nasal obstruction symptoms and anxiety. Ear, Nose & Throat Journal. 2020 Aug;99(7):448-52. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0145561319900747


Van Egmond MM, Grutters JP, Hannink G, Van Heerbeek N, Rovers MM. Septoplasty versus non-surgical management for nasal obstruction in adults with a deviated septum: economic evaluation alongside a randomized controlled trial. BMC medicine. 2020 Dec;18:1-1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12916-020-01562-5


Mahmood KT, Fareed T, Tabbasum R. Management of deviated nasal septum. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research. 2011;3(1):922. https://www.proquest.com/openview/bbe39519b508e0f64bcf0776431e9ece/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=54977