Journal of Clinical Respiratory Medicine

All submissions of the EM system will be redirected to Online Manuscript Submission System. Authors are requested to submit articles directly to Online Manuscript Submission System of respective journal.
Reach Us +1 (629)348-3199

Perspective - Journal of Clinical Respiratory Medicine (2023) Volume 7, Issue 3

Nose flaring: Understanding the physiology and significance

Andraia Reddy*

Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

*Corresponding Author:
Andraia Reddy
Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery
Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston
South Carolina, USA

Received: 03-May-2023, Manuscript No. AAJCRM-23-108360; Editor assigned: 05-May-2023, PreQC No. AAJCRM-23-108360(PQ); Reviewed: 19-May-2023, QC No. AAJCRM-23-108360; Revised: 22-May-2023, Manuscript No. AAJCRM-23-108360(R); Published: 29-May-2023, DOI: 10.35841/aajcrm-7.3.148

Citation: Reddy A. Nose flaring: Understanding the physiology and significance. J Clin Resp Med. 2023;7(3):148

Visit for more related articles at Journal of Clinical Respiratory Medicine


Nose flaring, also known as nasal flaring, is a visible expansion of the nostrils during respiration. It is a natural response that occurs when the body needs to increase the flow of air into the lungs. While nose flaring is commonly observed during intense physical exertion or in response to certain medical conditions, its underlying physiological mechanisms and potential significance deserve closer examination. In this article, we will delve into the causes, functions, and implications of nose flaring [1].

Physiological mechanisms of nose flaring

Nose flaring primarily occurs as a result of the body's adaptive responses to changes in respiratory demands. When the oxygen demands of the body increase, the respiratory system responds by expanding the nostrils to allow for increased airflow. Several factors contribute to nose flaring: Increased Respiratory Effort: During intense physical activity or in situations where the body requires more oxygen, the respiratory muscles work harder to enhance lung ventilation. Nose flaring helps facilitate this increased effort by allowing for a larger volume of air to be drawn into the lungs. Airway Resistance: In some cases, nose flaring may be a response to increased airway resistance. When there is narrowing or obstruction in the upper airways, such as in cases of respiratory infections, asthma, or allergies, the body compensates by expanding the nostrils to minimize resistance and maintain adequate airflow. Fight-or-Flight Response: Nose flaring can also be associated with the fight-or-flight response, which is the body's physiological reaction to stress or threat. During this response, sympathetic nervous system activity increases, leading to bronchodilation and increased respiratory rate. Nose flaring is part of this response, enabling efficient oxygen intake in preparation for physical exertion or escape [2].

Significance of nose flaring

Respiratory Efficiency: Nose flaring plays a vital role in optimizing respiratory efficiency. By widening the nostrils, the body increases the available surface area for air entry, allowing for a greater volume of oxygen to be drawn in during periods of increased demand. This helps maintain adequate oxygen levels in the bloodstream and supports overall cellular function. Indicator of Respiratory Distress: Nose flaring can be an important clinical sign, especially in infants and young children, indicating respiratory distress. When the body is struggling to meet its oxygen requirements, nose flaring becomes more pronounced. Healthcare professionals often assess nose flaring, along with other respiratory signs and symptoms, to evaluate the severity of respiratory distress and guide appropriate interventions. Diagnostic Value: In certain medical conditions, nose flaring can provide diagnostic clues [3]. For example, in respiratory infections like croup or bronchiolitis, nose flaring may be observed along with other symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. By recognizing nose flaring as a significant clinical sign, healthcare providers can make more accurate diagnoses and implement timely treatment strategies. Paediatric Assessment: Nose flaring is particularly relevant in pediatric patients. In infants, whose nasal passages are narrower compared to older children and adults, nose flaring can be an early indication of respiratory compromise. Monitoring and recognizing nose flaring can help healthcare providers promptly identify and manage respiratory distress in this vulnerable population [4].

When to seek medical attention

While nose flaring is often a normal physiological response, there are instances when it may indicate an underlying medical issue that requires medical attention. Seek prompt medical evaluation if you or someone you know experiences the following: Severe or Persistent Nose Flaring: If nose flaring is severe, prolonged, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, or bluish discoloration of the lips or face, immediate medical attention should be sought. These signs may indicate a serious respiratory problem that requires urgent evaluation and treatment. Respiratory Infections: Nose flaring, along with other symptoms such as fever, cough, and rapid breathing, can be indicative of respiratory infections. In infants and young children, in particular, respiratory infections can progress rapidly, making timely medical evaluation crucial. Chronic Respiratory Conditions: If you have a known respiratory condition such as asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and you notice an increase in nose flaring or worsening of respiratory symptoms, it is advisable to consult your healthcare provider. Changes in nose flaring patterns may indicate worsening respiratory function and the need for adjustments in treatment [5].


Nose flaring is a physiological response that serves a vital purpose in optimizing respiratory efficiency. It occurs when the body needs to increase the flow of air into the lungs, such as during intense physical activity or in response to respiratory distress. While nose flaring is typically a normal and adaptive response, it can also indicate underlying respiratory conditions or distress. Recognizing the significance of nose flaring, particularly in vulnerable populations like infants, can help healthcare providers make timely assessments and interventions. If you have concerns about nose flaring or notice severe or persistent symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention for appropriate evaluation and management.


  1. Blair E, Watson L, Badawi N, et al. Life expectancy among people with cerebral palsy in Western Australia. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2001;43(8):508-15.
  2. Indexed at, Google Scholar, Cross Ref

  3. Bernbaum JC, Pereira GR, Watkins JB, et al. Nonnutritive sucking during gavage feeding enhances growth and maturation in premature infants. Pediatr. 1983;71(1):41-5.
  4. Indexed at, Google Scholar

  5. Brody BA, Kinney HC, Kloman AS, et al. Sequence of central nervous system myelination in human infancy. I. An autopsy study of myelination. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 1987;46(3):283-301.
  6. Indexed at, Google Scholar, Cross Ref

  7. Bu'Lock F, Woolridge MW, Baum JD. Development of co-ordination of sucking, swallowing and breathing: ultrasound study of term and preterm infants. Dev Med Child Neurol. 1990;32(8):669-78.
  8. Indexed at, Google Scholar, Cross Ref

  9. Carruth BR, Skinner JD. Feeding behaviors and other motor development in healthy children (2–24 months). J Am Coll Nutr. 2002;21(2):88-96.
  10. Indexed at, Google Scholar, Cross Ref

Get the App