What Can Be Done if my Nose Seems Too Narrow and I Have Trouble Breathing Thru It?

I have not had any cosmetic work done on my nose. It has always been like this. An ENT doctor said my septum and turbinates do not seem to be causing the problem. Breathe-rights and decongestants don't help. I don't have any allergies (tested twice). Nose sprays prescribed by my doctor did not help.

Doctor Answers 5

Narrow nose and difficulty breathing

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Difficulty breathing most commonly occurs form one of the followings:
1.  Enlarged turbinates -- sausage like structures that humidify the air that can enlarge from allergies.
2.  Narrowed Internal or external valves,  structures in your nose can collapse when breathing in reducing air flow.  Correction requires cartilage grafts to help open the nose at the areas of collapse.
3.  Deviated Septum
4.  Polyps
An examination and/or CT scan can help with the diagnosis.  

Best of Luck, 
An in-person exam with a board-certified plastic surgeon is the best way to assess your needs and provide true medical advice. Best of luck. Dr. Michael Omidi

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 121 reviews

Correction of difficulty with breathing

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Narrowness to the mid part of the nose will often cause some difficuties with breathing.  The normal nostril flairing that opens up the nostrils to bring more air into the nose may actually collapse or pull inward with inspiration.  This could compound your problem, but even without narrowing to the tip of the nose there may be internal narrowing.  This area is called the internal valve, and certainly can cause decreased air intake with  inhalation.  The correction for this is to have cartilage grafts placed into "created pockets" internally that will widen the distance between the upper lateral cartilages.  This will create a wider distance between the internal valve structures, all of which allows more air to come into the nose with inhalation.  Many qualified Plastic Surgeons can perform this type of surgery.  The grafts are called "spreader grafts".


Contact a Plastic Surgeon that you feel comfortable with and ask about your desire for this type of surgery'


Good luck.  Frank Rieger M.D.  Plastic Surgeon  Tampa

Narrow nose and breathing problems

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Dear Mrs Stuffy

Breathing through your nose may feel stuffy at different times of the day.  From your description, you may have collapse of the sides of your nose (but usually Breath rite would help this).  You may have other airway obstruction sites that could be identified by a nasal endoscopic examination.  If you havent' had a scope placed in your nose, then schedule another consult for an airway examination.  

It may be that fixing your narrow nose can make it look better, but not help you breath.  This is good to discover before surgery so that you are not disappointed.  Best Wishes.

Travis T. Tollefson, MD, MPH
Sacramento Facial Plastic Surgeon

Difficulty breathing through the nose

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Consider a consultation with an ENT or plastic surgeon. A simple examination will disclose whether you have a collapsed nasal valve or other internal nasal problem which would restrict airflow.  There could also be a deep septal deviation which isn't readily visible so a second opinion could not hurt and may provide you with some guidance and suggestions for treatment.

Difficulty breathing through the nose

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It is impossible to say what can be done to improve airflow through your nose without a face to face physical examination. If as you say the septum and turbinates are not the reason for the decreased airflow and in the absence of prior surgery or trauma the most likely cause is collapse of the nasal valves when breathing. The treatment then would depend on which valve is involved.

You can test this for youself closing off/collapsing one nostril with your index finger. Lift your chin up and look in the mirror as you inhale and exhale through the nose. If you see the open side collapsing during the breathing the cycle that is a problem with a nasal valve. The treatment is placement of cartilage grafts inside the nose to prevent the collapse. The position of the graft will depend on which valve is involved.

I hope you realize that this format of posting questions and receiving answers lacks the face to face direct communication required for you to make an informed decision regarding your surgery.

My response to your question/post does not represent formal medical advice or constitute a doctor patient relationship. You need to consult with i.e. personally see a board certified plastic surgeon in order to receive a formal evaluation and develop a doctor patient relationship.

Aaron Stone, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.