Nasal flaring is when the nostrils widen when you breathe. It is often a sign that is it difficult to breathe.
Nasal flaring is seen mostly in infants and younger children.
Any condition that causes difficulty breathing can cause nasal flaring. While many causes of nasal flaring are not serious, some can be life threatening.
In young infants, nasal flaring can be a very important symptom of respiratory distress.
Seek immediate emergency help if you or your child has signs of a breathing difficulty.
Call your health care provider if:
The doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam and ask questions about the symptoms and medical history, such:
The doctor or nurse will listen carefully to the breath sounds. This is called auscultation.
Tests that may be done include:
Oxygen may be given if there is a breathing problem.
Flaring of the alae nasi (nostrils); Nostrils - flaring
Wiebe RA, Scott SM. General approach to the pediatric patient. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2011:chap. 164.
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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