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Alternative Names Return to topFlaring of the alae nasi (nostrils); Nostrils - flaring
Definition Return to top
Nasal flaring is the enlargement of the opening of the nostrils during breathing. It is often a sign that increased effort is needed to breathe.
Considerations Return to top
Nasal flaring is seen mostly in infants and younger children.
Any condition that causes the infant to work harder to breathe 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.
Causes Return to top
Home Care Return to top
Seek immediate emergency help if you or your child has signs of a breathing difficulty.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if:
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
The health care provider will perform a physical exam to determine if the flaring is due to upper or lower respiratory problems. The exam will include careful listening to the breath sounds. This is calledauscultation.
Medical history questions may include:
The following tests may be performed:
The patient may be given oxygen.
References Return to top
Wiebe RA. General Approach to the Pediatric Patient. Marx J. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2006: Chap. 164.Update Date: 5/8/2008 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., Inc.