Nostril dominance

When inhaling or exhaling through the nose, airflow usually differs from one nostril to the other. The common reason for this difference is:

  • Nose structure.
  • Nasal congestion.
  • Tissue erection.

Nose structure

People are not 100% symmetric in their bodies. It may be since birth or as a result of an injury. When the partition between the two nostrils is not even, air movement becomes uneven. That may cause a permanent airflow imbalance between the two nostrils. Polyps or other swellings may also restrict airflow. In many cases, correcting a curved or asymmetric partition between the two nose parts is a relatively simple surgical procedure. In addition, polyps or other swellings which obstruct nose airflow can be removed by an operation. These procedures may improve a person’s breathing.

Congestion – running nose

In most cases, the trigger for a stuffy nose is an invasion of inhaled viruses or allergens, which cause blood-vessels inflammation and swelling in the nose. To that, we react by coughing, sneezing, extra mucus buildup, and blowing the nose in an effort to repel the invaders.

One of the remedies they used in the old days when having a chronic stuffy nose was ‘changing’ air by moving to a different geographical location with fewer triggers.

Pharmaceutical companies offer solutions for this situation, but other alternatives for reducing clogged airways are available; for example, flushing the nose with salt water, inhaling salty fumes, or inhaling steam.

Nasal tissue erection

Inside my nose, I have tissues that expand and contract, like the erectile tissues of my sexual organs. My ‘breathing app’ controls these tissues, which allows the regulation of nasal airflow. These tissues can cause a partial or intense blocking of air movement in each of my nostrils.

There is a slow and constant shift in the erection of tissues in my two nose sections. Most of the time, one nostril allows a more unrestricted airflow than the opposite one, which I will call the dominant nostril. Like the tides of an ocean, the dominance changes in cycles.

My ‘breathing app’ controls the intensity of airflow restriction and the duration of the restriction. Intensive dominance is when breathing using only one nostril becomes difficult. Conversely, mild dominance is when I can maintain my breathing via the restricted nostril. 

We have different body cycles. Changes occur during different times of the day and under various hormonal, physical, and emotional circumstances. Therefore, the shifting cycles of nostril dominance differ from person to person. It may take between 20 minutes to 2 hours for the dominance to change nostrils, and the shifting time may change from cycle to cycle.

During the shifting, there is a particular interval where there is more or less equal dominance. That is the period of balance or nostril equilibrium. The length of this equilibrium interval may differ from cycle to cycle.

Some suggest that the dominant nostril side is linked to the dominant side of the brain, whereas right nostril dominance indicates the dominance of the right part of the brain and vice versa.

Checking dominance

An easy way to check my nostril dominance is by blocking one nostril using one finger and breathing exclusively through my other nostril. I then switch positions and compare airflow intensity.

I sometimes make a quick nostril dominance check without using my fingers. I relax my nose muscles and then abruptly and forcefully inhale through my nose. The nostril that partially shuts is my dominant one, and if both close evenly, there is probably equilibrium.

Breathing indications from my nose

I can gather relevant indications by following my nostril dominance cycles. When my nose is congested, I consider its impact on my dominance. My nose is quite symmetric, but people with an asymmetric nose structure need to factor in the effect of their imbalance.

Occasionally, I check my nostril dominance. For example, I do it when I have difficulties falling asleep, as I wake up in the morning, while experiencing stressful situations, or when I feel very relaxed. I’m familiar with the patterns in which my nostril dominance swings.

Being a predominantly nose breather reduces the chances of having intensive dominance and irregular alternating intervals.