how come if your left nose is plugged and you turn to lay on your right side your left nose unplugs? (and vice versa)


Edit: y’all, didn’t you know we have two noses and one nostril sheesh 🤧

In: Biology

Your nose has a rhythm where it engorges one side with blood, restricting airflow, while the other breathes clearly. If everything is going well, it switches back and forth over time without you noticing.

But, if something aggravates your nasal passages (say, a cold or allergies) then there will inflammation and one or both nasal passages will become extra engorged and you will notice that one passage is more blocked than usual.

When you lay down on one side, gravity pulls the blood to the down side, so the upper passage feels clear while the lower feels blocked from engorgement.

There are two maxillary sinuses, one on either side of your nose in your upper jaw. They are pyramidal in shape, with the apex pointing toward your ear and the base toward your nose. These sinuses open into your nose, between small bones called the nasal conchae.

The goblet cells present in the lining of these sinuses secrete mucus, which helps humidify inhaled air and trap foreign bodies(dust, bacteria etc), which is then drained out through the opening(called maxillary Ostia) described above. Now, our anatomical evolution screwed up a bit(or maybe it’s genius by design). Imagine draining a half filled cylinder when the hole is at a level above that of water. How will you drain it? By tilting it to its side, right? That’s how a congested maxillary sinus is drained.

Say, you have sinusitis in your right sinus and it’s congested. The mucus can’t drain because the opening of that sinus is at a higher level than that which will permit easy drainage. So, you lie down on your left side. This way, the opening will face downward, allowing a clear path to escape for the mucus, aided by gravity.

Now you may think that’s a shitty design, but you’ll thank evolution for saving you from becoming a slobbering mess when talking to that cute girl, or just doing any chore.

How many of you guys out there have a left nose and a right nose? I only have one and it’s right in the middle. Luckily it has two nostrils otherwise I’d be lost reading about these issues.

Left nose? Right nose?

My friend, those are nosetrils!

I saw something on a “crazy facts” show on TV once that answered this, they said that the body can sense via something in your armpit that you are lying on your side and it will clear your nostril so that you don’t suffocate in your sleep. You could replicate this by taking a squash ball or tennis ball and squeezing it in your armpit and the opposite nostril would clear.

I remember trying it, and it kinda working.

Now I’m older, and having read some answers here, I’m thinking that TV show was winding me the fuck up!

There is a congestion cycle: one sinus is mostly open and the other one mostly clear, at most times. The clear one may dry out and get a bit damaged, then it recovers while it’s congested. Incidentally, this cycle is interrupted by adrenaline, and Sudafed activates the adrenaline receptor, opening both nostrils.

There was a theory that this cycle evolved to make you change position when you sleep.

It’s the opposite for me, I think I have anti-grav snot. A little fact also, you will notice if you pay close attention that the dominant air inhalation will switch from nostril to nostril about every 40 minutes

An ELI5 answer:

Your nose has 2 nostrils, but if you pay close attention when you sniff air in, you’ll notice you only use one at a time. You can feel which one air comes out of when you blow the air out.

Your sinuses are the parts behind your nose, inside your face, where your snot is made. Sometimes they push the snot out through your nose, like when you blow into a tissue, so there’s a little door up there to get that stuff out.

Think of your sinuses kind of like an hourglass. When you’re standing up, they both have some stuff in them. When you lay on your side, all the stuff goes into the bottom one and covers the “exit door”, so it blocks that nostril, which is fine, since we only use one at a time anyway. It’s just more uncomfortable, since it’s blocked and not just turned off.

To unblock it, you lay on the other side and wait. Just like an hourglass you flip over, all the junk in your sinuses will slide to the other side because of gravity. Then your other nostril is blocked and the first one opens back up.

I’ve have lived w the same sensation most of my life. To the point where I couldnt breathe while I slept unless I was laying on my left side (not good for my shoulder).

I went to a doctor and he told me my turbinates were swollen. Had a procedure and got them trimmed. Best thing I’ve ever done. I can breathe in any position I sleep in now. Haven’t had an issue breathing since.

One thing to look out for after the procedure is the mucus. I have to blow my nose damn near everyday now. Multiple times. I just builds up now since it’s more open I suppose. Minor side effect but def still worth it.

Also why does this reverse during orgasm (the side facing down unblocks)?

your body does this normally all day long. It alternates nostrils to give the other one a break.

Uhhhhh I never knew….this works???

ELI5: how is life with a right nose and left nose?

Wait…you all have 2 noses?

If you look at the biological making of the right notrifical of the nose, you will begin to realize it is a beautiful specimen. Firstly, the angular torsion of the right notrifical is perpendicular to the solar system’s heatwave… I HAVE NO IDEA TO BE HONEST!

How many noses do you have? I only have the one.

I used to have this issue, along with migraines and bowel irritability. Then I realized one day that I’m lactose intolerant. Started drinking lactose free milk and my sinus problems are gone along with the other issues. It is so nice to not have migraines any more! And sinus problems! And bowel problems!

It does seem like I have 2 noses. I have no idea, my nose is not plugged up at all, but for all my life my left nostril does nothing and only my right breathes in and out. I just tested it right now, put my finger under my left nostril and breathed heavily…. nothing at all. Put my finger under my right nostril and breathed heavily, totally could feel it.

I mentioned it to my doctor before and he said that doesnt make any sense, so I shut up thinking I was stupid.

But really, my ENTIRE life I remember this. Only 1 nostril will work, and its always only the right one. Makes no sense. I do have only 1 lung, but seriously, each nostril doesnt go to a single individual lung, right? Me having only 1 lung cant possibly cause only one nostril to work? Can it….?

I am still perplexed.