Are Both Of Your Nostrils The Same?

The respiratory system is made up of multiple working parts, with the nose acting as the first line of defense against potential contaminants entering the body through the respiratory tract (via Get Body Smart). The nostrils serve as an entryway for oxygen through the nose and into the nasal cavity. Rather than having one singular nostril, they are instead separated into two by a structure of cartilage known as the septum, which influences the shape of the nose, according to Stanford Children's Health.

Although your nostrils may appear to be symmetrical, no one is perfectly symmetrical (via ABC News). One of your arms may be slightly longer than the other, or maybe one eye appears slightly different in shape. Our differences make us unique, with no one body just like another. But is there a reason for having two nostrils — especially two that appear mostly alike? Here's what the science says.

How your nostrils differ in function

As it turns out, each of our nostrils is immensely different from the other. According to Science Focus, at any given point, one nostril is always experiencing more airflow than the other. This process changes hourly, with the amount of air being inhaled between the two nostrils always changing.

Why this fluctuation occurs may be due to a variety of reasons. Our nostrils are moist in nature, so by periodically switching up the airflow, our bodies stave off the possibility of one nostril drying out (via Medical Discovery News). Additionally, some scientists think this airflow shift increases our detection of surrounding smells. Any number of factors can influence our unique nasal cycle including age, heart rate, blood pressure, and even our dominant hand. Interestingly enough, those that are right-hand dominant are found to have increased airflow predominantly through their left nostril.

Additionally, while similar in appearance, your nostrils may begin to look less alike over time. It's not uncommon for our noses to change as we age (via Verywell Health). Structural changes take place within the cartilage and bones that make up the shape of our noses, leading to more asymmetrical nostrils.