Keep Your Nose Healthy: Tips from the ENT
You wouldn’t ignore the filter in your heater or air conditioner. You change the filter in your car regularly, so it only makes sense to take care of your body’s air filter. Didn’t know your body had a filter? Surprise: it’s your nose. Your nose is for more than separating your eyes from your mouth. Taking care of your nose is important so it can continue to do a good job keeping you healthy.
Your nose as a gatekeeper
Breathing is essential. If you can’t breathe, you can’t live. With every breath you take, your lungs expand and suck air into your body through your nose. The air travels through the nasal passages, down the windpipe and through the bronchial tubes to where it is delivered to the air sacs. The whole system is designed to get the oxygen out of the environment and into your body.
Your nose is the gatekeeper that decides what goes in and what should stay out. The hairs that line your nose filter out very large particles, acting as a first line of defense. In addition, the nose has a protective coating of mucus to help wash other particles away.
Good nasal hygiene
You keep the other parts of your body clean to promote good health. Your nose is no different. The first tip to proper nasal hygiene is to clean your nose. If you work in a dirty or dusty environment, be sure to wear NIOSH-approved respirators and masks to keep particles out of your nose.
Recreational activities like motocross, ATV trail riding and biking all put you at risk of inhaling particles. Wear masks that keep out particles but do not restrict your airflow. If you do get a nose full of dust or debris, use a nasal irrigator or neti pot to rinse your nose out. This is much more effective than simply trying to blow your nose.
Maintain moisture levels
Your nose should be coated with a thin layer of mucus. Mucus is essential to keeping your breathing passages clean. If the mucus becomes thick because of lack of moisture, it causes breathing problems (ever have a cold where your head feels all stuffy? That’s because the mucus in your nose and sinuses is too thick and dry).
Run a humidifier to keep moisture in the air. Breathing dry air removes the moisture out the mucus membranes. Humidifiers add moisture back into the air. Think of a humidifier as a moisturizer for your nose. If you have a problem with nosebleeds, you may find that a humidifier will help.
Moisturize your nose from the inside out as well. That means to drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine and alcohol. By the time you start to feel thirsty, your body is already beginning to be dehydrated. Drink at least eight glasses of water each day. Caffeine-rich drinks and alcoholic beverages have a dehydrating effect.
Use saline freely
One of the best things you can do for your nose is to use saline sprays regularly. A saline rinse removes debris, adds moisture and thins mucus. Unlike other types of nasal sprays, saline rinses are not habit forming and will not cause a rebound of swelling. You can mix a saline solution at home or buy saline solutions at the pharmacy. If you make your own, be sure to only use distilled water and keep your solution sterile.
When your nose gets sick, call an ENT
If you have a problem with nose bleeds, thick mucous or respiratory problems that aren’t helped with moisture, its time to call the ENT, or otolaryngologist. Your ENT can examine your nasal passages to determine if you have problems such as:
- Deviated septum
- Sinus infection
Chronic sinusitis and allergies are also treated by the ENT. Call the ENT today to get to the bottom of any problems with your nose.