Your nose is essential for conditioning the air you breathe and for maintaining a disease-free body.
You probably have heard me say at one time or another that we cannot survive without oxygen for more than 6 minutes.
You may not be aware of it, but your nose plays a major role in getting your body the oxygen it requires and in conditioning the air that you breathe in.
From a very young age, we learn the importance of dental hygiene. As critical as dental health is for our well-being, the same goes for nasal health. Most often, we tend to ignore it, and there is a lack of awareness about its importance. However, since the Covid-19 pandemic and new habits that came from prolonged mask-wearing, we look at mouth breathing and nasal hygiene through a different lens. We are witnessing a radical change, and people across the globe are becoming increasingly more conscious of it.
Why is nasal hygiene so important?
First, your nose humidifies and warms, and regulates the temperature of the air you inhale, preparing it for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs.
Secondly, it acts as a filter, removing dust, bacteria and viruses, allergens, and other particulates from the air, which helps to prevent congestion, infection, and illness.
Since your nostrils are exposed to the environmental air, they can become accumulation areas for dust, pollution, bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The presence of such foreign substances can trigger multiple problems, such as infections, diseases, and sicknesses. Your nose acts as the first line of defense against these foreign substances.
Maintaining good nasal hygiene not only assists your nose in preparing and improving the quality of the air you take in, but it can also provide additional health benefits, such as enhancing your overall quality of life.
Since nasal hygiene involves keeping your nasal passages clean, clear, and moisturized, it enhances all the functions of your nose and reduces any congestion that disrupts breathing or causes irritation.
You may find that it is easier for you to breathe through your nose and feel more energetic and active as a result of being able to breathe better without congestion and irritation.
Just like dental hygiene, nasal hygiene must be an important part of your daily wellness routine, especially if you’re suffering from breathing or chronic sinus issues.
I am not talking about flushing your nose with your old neti pot.
Practicing proper nasal hygiene can not only help relieve allergy symptoms and reduce the chances of an asthma attack, it can also help you breathe better, feel better, and perform at your best.
By taking just a few minutes out of your day to rinse away the dust, bacteria, and viruses from your sinuses, you’re sure to notice an instant improvement in your ability to function better, think clearer, and act with more confidence.
True nasal hygiene is keeping your sinuses clean, clear, and moisturized to ensure your nose functions at its peak performance. Rather than waiting for symptoms to flare up, you can take steps to stay ahead of the suffering.
Implement A Sleep Hygiene and A Nasal Care Routine
Suppose you’re lying awake all night, suffering from a cold, the flu, or maybe just your seasonal allergy symptoms. In that case, there’s a good chance that you’re losing sleep from a dry mouth and nose, the uncomfortable post-nasal drip, the runny nose, and the persistent wheezing and coughing.
Your first reaction may be to go to the pharmacy and pick up some over-the-counter meds and vitamin supplements. Although those may provide some temporary relief, there are some alternatives you may want to consider that will not only improve your sleep when you are ill but also help you rest better on a daily basis.
Start A Sleep Hygiene Routine
“What is a sleep hygiene routine?”
A sleep hygiene routine consists of the things you do on a daily/nightly basis to help yourself prepare for a good night’s sleep.
For example, you may want to:
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
- Take some “quiet time” to relax or meditate and help relieve stress at the end of your day.
- Avoid television, smartphones, and other distractions just before bed.
- Take a warm shower or bath before bed to help you relax and to wash away dust, pollen, and other debris that could contribute to post-nasal drip and nighttime congestion.
- If you get a lot of mucus, stay away from that warm glass of milk you were told would help you sleep.
- Add a nightly nasal rinse or drops to clear your sinuses of excess mucus, dust, allergens, or viruses that could lead to further congestion, inflammation, and infection.
- Maybe even mouth-taping if you can breathe through your nose.
Dry nasal passages are typically caused by a lack of mucus production in the sinuses, which can leave your nose feeling dry and irritated. There are several reasons why your sinuses may stop producing mucus, but the most common causes are colds or allergies.
What Causes Dry Sinuses?
A variety of conditions can cause a dry nose.
Here’s a list of some of the most common conditions:
- A Cold
- Mouth breathing
- Blowing your nose too frequently
- Overuse of Antihistamines and Decongestants
- Weather Changes
- Environmental Conditions and Air Quality
- Air Condition/Heating
- Allergies or hay fever
- Non-allergic Rhinitis
- Certain Medications
Depending on the root cause, a dry nose can be accompanied by other symptoms. Sufferers typically report irritation, burning around the nostrils, and inflammation.
The treatments for a dry nose are probably best determined by understanding the initial cause. For example, if your dry nasal passages result from cold or seasonal allergies.
Changing your bedding regularly is also a good idea, making sure to switch out your pillowcases every few days. Dust, pollen, and other debris can accumulate in your sheets and on your pillow quickly and worsen your post-nasal drip symptoms overnight.
In most cases, sufferers may find symptom relief with the following:
- Nasal-safe moisturizing drops or rinses (Xlear)
- Steam treatments
- Petroleum jelly
- Nasal hygiene routines
- Staying hydrated
Many people ask what the best time to clean your nose is. I recommend once in the morning and again in the evening before bed. A nasal wash before starting your day will clean all the pollutants that might have accumulated overnight.
A rinse before bed will clear out your nasal cavity of things you inhaled during the day, improving your breathing and making a peaceful sleep more possible.
By adding sinus rinsing to your daily cleansing routine, you can regain clarity and regain control of your life. For infants, you can use Xlear drops on drops in each nostril at diaper changes.
In more severe cases, it may be necessary to:
- Stop using over-the-counter (OTC) nasal sprays and medications
- Contact a healthcare professional to determine the root cause
- Contact your doctor to discuss your current medications/treatments
When you practice good nasal hygiene, you’ll find that you get sick less often and that your illnesses are shorter in duration and much more manageable. You may also find that because you feel better, you sleep better, and because you sleep better, you feel better.