Be Careful Blowing Your Nose

When cold and flu season arrive, the sale of tissues always goes up due to the unlucky infected victims having to blow their nose.  When your nose becomes stuffed up along with increased sniffling and sneezing, your first inclination is to blow out the extra mucus with a great deal of force.  But beware – blowing your nose too hard or too frequently often prolongs your suffering in addition to other downsides.

The potential risks to blowing your nose too forcefully in hopes it will bring us relief, is not the right practice and can actually be harmful.  Here are the reasons why:

·         The more effort you put into blowing your nose only leads to increased pressure in the nasal cavity propelling a milliliter of mucus into the sinus cavity.  This forceful blowing can send viruses or bacteria from the nose into the sinuses where they can find their way into small openings created from being a little too aggressive with a Kleenex.  This can result in a sinus infection.  

 It is best to blow your nose gently, one side at a time or try to not blow at all or very infrequently.

 ·         Spraying saline mist into the nose can be a good way to relieve congestion.  Spray the saline into a nostril then gently sniff it into the back of the mouth.  This should help loosen up clogged mucus which you can either spit out or by blowing the nose very gently.

 ·         Another downside of blowing your nose too hard is it can send bad bacteria from the nose into the inner ear causing an ear infection.

 ·         Some people may notice blood mixed in with mucus blown from their nose.  This indicates that you have ruptured small blood vessels in the nose from being overly aggressive.  A combination of too much forceful and or frequent nose blowing and low-humidity can lead to the mucosal lining becoming overly irritated which could result in nosebleeds.

 How to blow your nose correctly

 ·         Before attempting to blow your nose, moisten the nasal passages with a saline spray or mist.  When we wake up in the morning is when our nasal passages are particularly dry from sleeping.  Squirt the saline into a nostril, let it settle and work a bit then blow gently, one nostril at a time.

 ·         It can help to blow each nostril separately.  Cover one nostril with a tissue and gently blow without blowing too forcefully.  Once the nostril is cleared, wipe with a clean tissue and repeat with the other nostril.

 ·         To help reduce the spread of the infection, always remember that after blowing your nose to wash your hands thoroughly using warm water and soap.