Do you sometimes feel as though your nasal passages are narrowed, causing a feeling of resistance when inhaling?

Perhaps this mostly occurs in the morning, making you think that some kind of inflammatory process inside your nose got kicked up during sleep.

This suspected inflammation (you envision the inner lining of your nose thickening up and hence, narrowing the passageway through which inhaled air flows) may actually come and go at random, rather than having a persistent nature.

You’ve found that it can’t be remedied by blowing your nose or trying to extract mucus some other way.

Your nose just feels full, even though you don’t have a cold.

“Rhinitis, or inflammation/irritation of the nasal lining (mucosa), can cause nasal congestion,” says Inna Husain, MD, an ear, nose and throat specialist with Community Healthcare System of Indiana.

“This can make it hard to breathe through your nose.

“If this congestion happens at night, it may be due to inhalant allergies, i.e., allergic rhinitis.

“This is common with indoor allergens such as dust mites which are common in bedding.

“Treatment is aimed at reducing exposure to allergens.

“Allergy mattress and pillow covers, air purifier, frequent washing of bedding in hot water can be helpful.

“In addition, using a nasal saline rinse before bedtime and nasal steroid spray can help reduce this congestion.”

A Vexing Problem: You Live at High Altitude Where Dust Mites Can’t Thrive

Dust mites don’t thrive at high altitude. The cutoff point, according to studies, is about 4,900 feet or 1,500 meters above sea level.

This doesn’t mean that no dust mite ever can’t survive at this altitude. It just means that it’s too high for them to be nearly as concentrated as they are at lower altitudes.

Nevertheless, if you don’t feel that your trouble with breathing is related to any kind of allergies (e.g., the problem isn’t seasonal or related to being near animals), you should have an exam by an ear, nose and throat physician.

The exam will include a scope of the inside of your nose.

You’ll first get a numbing agent placed up both nostrils (painless).

Then, the practitioner will gently insert a thin probe up your nostrils, one nostril at a time.

While they’re doing this, they’ll be able to see in real time the image that it’s producing, on a big screen, with the image considerably magnified.

Once the brief and painless procedure is completed, the patient can then view the images, which can be frozen for viewing at any point along the nasal passageway.

This scoping procedure will allow the practitioner to see if there are any polyps or other obstructions or issues that can account for the patient’s perception of a narrowed nasal airway when breathing.

A head MRI may also be ordered, which will visualize not just the brain but also the nasal and surrounding structures.

Dr. Husain is an otolaryngologist affiliated with Community Hospital, Munster, IN, Community Stroke and Rehabilitation Center, Crown Point, IN, and St. Catherine Hospital, East Chicago, IN. She received her medical degree from Southwestern Medical School at Dallas. Follow her on Instagram and TikTok
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.


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