Numb nose quiz
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Understand your numb nose symptoms with Buoy, including 9 causes and common questions concerning your numb nose.
4 most common causes
Numb nose symptoms
You've experienced an itch or tickle in your nose before, but this is different. True numbness of the nose can be an unsettling experience, whether it comes on suddenly or over time. Some may notice obvious triggers, such as cold weather, while for others, the cause may not be so clear.
Common characteristics and accompanying symptoms of a numb nose are
It's likely to also experience the following with a numb nose:
- Temperature changes
Numb nose causes
Nerves transmit sensations like temperature and pain from organs like your skin or nose back to the brain. Many problems with sensation in the body are related to nerve injury. The main nerve that supplies sensation to the nose is the trigeminal nerve. It is large and has many branches that reach the entire face, so numbness may be limited to the nose or may spread to other areas depending on which branches are affected. In other cases, numbness may be related to problems with blood circulation or other underlying medical conditions.
Nerve-related causes of numb nose may include the following.
- Infection: Viruses that cause mild symptoms at first may lead to nerve inflammation and numbness, even as the infection resolves.
- Autoimmune: In certain conditions like multiple sclerosis, the body attacks its own nerves.
- Compression: A tumor or other mass can press on nerve branches and lead to nose numbness or tingling, or conditions such as trigeminal neuralgia.
- Injury: Trauma to the affected area can damage nerves, leading to altered sensation such as numbness.
Weather-related causes that may contribute to your numb nose include the following.
- Cold weather: In low temperatures, the body slows circulation to peripheral areas like the nose, fingers, and toes to conserve warm blood for essential organs.
- Frostbite: This painful condition occurs after prolonged exposure to cold temperatures when skin and underlying tissue freeze. Peripheral areas like the nose are particularly vulnerable to frostbite.
- Vasospasm: In some people, the blood vessels may constrict excessively in response to triggers like cold temperatures. This can lead to painful areas that turn pale and numb for some time before the vessels reopen.
Other causes of a numb nose may include the following.
- Anxiety: Excessive nervousness, especially when hyperventilating, can cause numbness and tingling in certain parts of the body, including the nose.
- Medical procedures: Certain surgeries on the face, nose or sinuses may lead to injury and numbness.
- Electrolyte imbalance: The body depends on certain elements in the blood, such as potassium or calcium, to be maintained in normal amounts. Abnormal amounts can lead to a variety of symptoms, including numbness.
9 numb nose conditions
This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.
Nose or sinus tumor
A tumor in the nose or one of the sinuses occurs due to abnormal growth of the cells lining the inside of the nose and sinuses. These tumors are rare and can cause symptoms like congestion or blockage, nose bleeds and sometimes facial pain or swelling.
Rarity: Ultra rare
Top Symptoms: new headache, congestion, vision changes, ear fullness/pressure, ear pain
Symptoms that never occur with nose or sinus tumor: improving congestion
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Iatrogenic nose condition
Surgery of the nose or nose piercing can result in side effects ranging from infection, pain and swelling to numbness and decreased sense of smell.
Top Symptoms: nose pain, bloody nose, bump in or on the nose, nose redness, swollen nose
Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit
Multiple sclerosis (ms)
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disease of the central nervous system. The body's immune system attacks nerve fibers and their myelin covering. This causes irreversible scarring called "sclerosis," which interferes with the transmission of signals between the brain and the body.
The cause is unknown. It may be connected to a genetic predisposition. The disease usually appears between ages 20 to 50 and is far more common in women than in men. Other risk factors include family history; viral infections such as Epstein-Barr; having other autoimmune diseases; and smoking.
Symptoms include numbness or weakness in arms, legs, or body; partial or total loss of vision in one or both eyes; tingling or shock-like sensation, especially in the neck; tremor; and loss of coordination.
Diagnosis is made through patient history, neurological examination, blood tests, MRI, and sometimes a spinal tap.
There is no cure for MS, but treatment with corticosteroids and plasma exchange (plasmapheresis) can slow the course of the disease and manage symptoms for better quality of life.
Top Symptoms: severe fatigue, constipation, numbness, decreased sex drive, signs of optic neuritis
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Mild frostbite of the nose
Frostbite is tissue damage caused by exposure to the cold (at or below 32F or 0C). It is most commonly found in people doing leisurely activities like camping, hunting, or snow sports. It is also more likely in those who are intoxicated or have a mental disorder.
Top Symptoms: nose pain, swollen nose, nose redness, numb nose, nose coldness
Symptoms that always occur with mild frostbite of the nose: nose coldness
Urgency: Hospital emergency room
Frostnip of the nose
Frostnip is damage of the outermost layers of the skin caused by exposure to the cold (at or below 32F or 0C). It is most commonly found in people doing leisurely activities like camping, hunting, or snow sports.
Top Symptoms: nose pain, nose redness, numb nose, nose coldness, turning blue or purple from coldness
Symptoms that always occur with frostnip of the nose: nose coldness
Urgency: In-person visit
Hypoparathyroidism is a condition in the parathyroid glands do not produce enough parathyroid hormone. This leads to low levels of calcium in the blood, which can cause both short-term and long-term symptoms. Causes of hypoparathyroidism include surgery or radiation to the neck, aut..
Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by longstanding or poorly controlled diabetes mellitus (DM). Other risk factors for developing diabetic neuropathy include obesity, smoking, cardiovascular disease, and abnormal lipid levels.
Diabetic neuropathy can present as a number ..
Chronic idiopathic peripheral neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy refers to the feeling of numbness, tingling, and pins-and-needles sensation in the feet. Idiopathic means the cause is not known, and chronic means the condition is ongoing without getting better or worse.
The condition is most often found in people over age 60. Idiopathic neuropathy has no known cause.
Symptoms include uncomfortable numbness and tingling in the feet; difficulty standing or walking due to pain and lack of normal sensitivity; and weakness and cramping in the muscles of the feet and ankles.
Peripheral neuropathy can greatly interfere with quality of life, so a medical provider should be seen in order to treat the symptoms and reduce the discomfort.
Diagnosis is made through physical examination; blood tests to rule out other conditions; and neurologic and muscle studies such as electromyography.
Treatment involves over-the-counter pain relievers; prescription pain relievers to manage more severe pain; physical therapy and safety measures to compensate for loss of sensation in the feet; and therapeutic footwear to help with balance and walking.
Top Symptoms: distal numbness, muscle aches, joint stiffness, numbness on both sides of body, loss of muscle mass
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Low calcium level
Hypocalcemia is a condition where there is not enough calcium in the blood. Calcium is a mineral contained in the blood, which helps the heart and other muscles function properly, and is needed to maintain strong teeth and bones.
Top Symptoms: fatigue, shortness of breath, irritability, general numbness, tingling foot
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Numb nose treatments and relief
Problems with sensation mean that you'll have to pay much closer attention to your nose than you have in the past. Simply trying to protect it from trauma and extreme temperatures can go a long way, though the more detailed information you can remember about your nose numbness symptoms, the more likely you'll be able to find to an underlying cause.
You can try the following remedies at home to address your numb nose.
- Cover up: A scarf or mask can go a long way in protecting your nose's sensation, especially in extreme weather conditions.
- Warm up: Numbness can strike in cold temperatures even if you're dressed properly, so don't hesitate to duck inside for a few minutes on especially bad winter days.
- Symptom diary: Pay attention to triggers of the nose numbness, how often it occurs, and whether you experience any other symptoms at the same time. This information can help your doctor determine the underlying cause of your nose numbness.
When to see a doctor
If your numb nose symptoms persist, you should consult your physician. He or she may recommend the following.
- Steroids: If your doctor feels that your nose numbness symptoms are due to nerve inflammation, a course of steroids may be prescribed.
- Calcium-channel blockers: These medications are vasodilators that can prevent your blood vessels from constricting too strongly after a stimulus like cold weather.
- Neurological examination: A neurologist can perform a detailed examination of your sensation to determine which and how many nerves might be affected.
- Imaging: In some cases, a CT scan or MRI may be ordered to get a close look at your nose and its nerves. Doctors may also be interested in getting a picture of your brain.
- Nasopharyngolaryngoscopy: In this procedure, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor inserts a small camera (scope) in the nose to look for problems like masses or tumors that may be causing your symptoms.
When it is an emergency
Seek help without delay if you have:
- Sudden-onset weakness
- Facial droop
- Difficulty speaking
FAQs about numb nose
Here are some frequently asked questions about numb nose.
Why is my nose numb after a root canal?
A root canal, especially on the teeth of the upper jaw, may include intentional anesthesia (or numbing medication) to the maxillary portion of the trigeminal nerve. This nerve provides sensation to the tip of the nose. When it is numbed as a medical professional numbs your teeth, it may also numb the tip of your nose.
Why does my nose become numb when I'm drinking?
Drinking, over time, can cause an alcoholic neuropathy. Drinking can diminish stores of vital nutrients including thiamine, folate, niacin, B6, B12, and vitamin E. It may also cause blood to run to the face, warming the face and making a cold environment feel even colder in comparison.
Why is my nose numb when it's cold?
When it is cold, the body works to shunt blood away from the extremities toward the heart. The circulatory system does this by constricting small blood vessels in the hands, feet, and on the face. Without an adequate supply of blood, numbness can set in. At the same time, nerve conduction generally runs slower in colder conditions. Impulses carrying information on touch literally move slower in cold weather.
Could multiple sclerosis be the reason my nose is numb?
Yes, though it is likely from another benign cause. An early and common sign of multiple sclerosis (MS) is intermittent numbness of the face. Often, this cause is not caught early, and recurrent or persistent loss of motor function, numbness, or changes in vision eventually lead an individual to seek the aid of a neurologist and explore the possibility of multiple sclerosis.
Does anxiety cause nose numbness?
Anxiety can cause hyperventilation and severely reduce the body's level of carbon dioxide, which can cause tingling in the fingertips and along the tip of the nose. By itself, it does not cause numbness in the nose. If you believe you are hyperventilating, sit down in a safe place and breathe deeply and slowly, possibly into an object like a bag to decrease the feeling of numbness and tingling.
Questions your doctor may ask about numb nose
- Have you ever had any surgeries?
- Do you have any body piercings?
- Do any of your body parts (e.g., toes, hands, ears) feel cold?
- Did you recently get your nose pierced?
Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.
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- Levin MC. Numbness. Merck Manual Consumer Version. Updated Nov. 2016. Merck Manuals Consumer Version Link
- Trigeminal Neuralgia. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Johns Hopkins Medicine Link
- Facial Problems, Noninjury. University of Michigan: Michigan Medicine. Updated Sept. 23, 2018. U of M Health Link
- Datta R, Apte CV. Frostbite of the Pinna and Nose. Med J Armed Forces India. 2011;63(3):286-7. NCBI Link
- Vasospasm. Cedars-Sinai. Cedars-Sinai Link
- MS Symptoms. National Muliple Sclerosis Society. National MS Society Link