What Triggers That Annoying Nose Clicking When You Breathe?
If you’ve ever noticed an odd clicking or popping sound coming from your nose when you breathe, you’re not alone. This common condition has several possible causes. While usually harmless, a clicking nose can indicate underlying health issues in some cases. Learning what’s behind it is the first step toward relief.
The Role of Nasal Structures
Within the nose are cartilage, bone, blood vessels, and mucosal tissue. As air flows in and out, these structures expand and relax. The nasal septum divides the airway into two sides. It’s composed of cartilage and bone covered by mucosa.
During breathing, airflow causes tissues to vibrate. If they’re inflamed or swollen, their vibration may cause clicking or cracking noises. Specific parts of the nose prone to triggering this include:
The Nasal Septum
A deviated septum is a displacement of the wall dividing the nasal cavity into two sides. It can develop due to genetics, trauma, or prolonged nasal congestion. The asymmetrical airflow caused by septal deviation can lead to noisy breathing.
These shelf-like bones protrude into the nasal airway. During an allergic reaction or cold, the turbinates become engorged and swollen with blood. As air passes the engorged tissue, clicking or popping may occur.
Sinuses are hollow cavities within the cheekbones, forehead, and around the nose. Each has a small opening that connects it to the nasal cavity. Fluid or mucus accumulation inside obstructed sinuses can cause noisy breathing.
Swollen, inflamed nasal tissues triggered by colds, allergies, or environmental irritants tend to vibrate. The motion prompts clicking or cracking. Severe congestion also causes mouth breathing. On inhalation, the air passing through narrowed nasal passages rapidly expands the tissues, adding to the noise.
These noncancerous growths emerge from the lining of the sinuses or nasal cavity. Though often too small to have symptoms initially, larger polyps can impede airflow. Their presence alters air pressure in the nasal cavity, leading to clicking or popping during breathing.
Any trauma to the nose can potentially shift its structures and disrupt normal airflow. For example, a broken nose, sports injury, or blow to the face may cause septal deviation, swelling, or sinus obstruction – all of which might trigger noisy nasal breathing.
Inadequate nasal moisture allows tissues to dry out and transiently stick together. Sudden reopening of these areas by inhaled air produces a clicking sensation. Common causes are insufficient humidity, chronic sinusitis, nasal steroid sprays, and mouth breathing.
Some individuals with Tourette syndrome involuntarily make sniffing or throat-clearing sounds. In many cases, they experience premonitory sensations in the nose or throat that trigger temporary relief when cleared. The compulsion to do so can lead to frequent clicking noises.
Rarely, an object stuck in the nasal cavity can elicit clicking with breathing. Possible items that could end up lodged include beads, paper wads, seeds, beans, foam pieces, and insects. The location of the foreign body often correlates to the side of the clicking.
When To See A Doctor
While typically harmless, a persistently clicking nose warrants medical evaluation. It may signal:
- Chronic sinus infection
- Nasal polyps
- Tumor in the nasal cavity
- Foreign body stuck in the nose
- Nasal structural defect requiring surgery
See a physician promptly if the clicking is accompanied by:
- Facial pain or pressure
- Purulent nasal discharge
- Difficulty breathing
Diagnostic methods to check for underlying problems include nasal endoscopy, CT scan, and MRI. Treatments vary depending on the cause but may involve medications, humidification, nasal saline, sinus irrigation, or surgical correction.
Take Action For Annoying Nasal Clicking
To manage a clicking nose:
✓ Use saline nasal sprays or rinses to flush out mucus and soothe swollen tissues.
✓ Take antihistamines or decongestants to reduce nasal congestion from allergies or colds.
✓ Run a humidifier, especially at night, to prevent dry nasal passages.
✓ Avoid triggers like cigarette smoke or strong scents that irritate nasal tissues.
✓ Use medicated nasal ointments or gels to lubricate dry nasal surfaces.
✓ Adhere to allergy or sinus medications prescribed by your doctor.
✓ Maintain proper hydration and nasal hygiene.
See an ENT specialist promptly if clicks persist despite self-care or signal other problems. Though hardly pleasant, occasional clicking from transient congestion is typically harmless.
But persistent noise with other symptoms deserves medical assessment. With proper treatment of the underlying cause, annoying nasal clicking can often be silenced.