The Air is Dry…so why is My Nose Running?

A comment to a recent blog post about distinguishing between a cold and allergies got us thinking.

During the winter months, people sometimes experience a runny nose. It could be due to extreme cold or from being inside in the heat. You might also experience in a dry environment such as in arid climate or on an airplane.

Why does this happen? We asked our resident expert, Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD, FAANP and owner of the Allergy Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center.

airplane travel, nasal spray, nasal irrigation, saline spray, herbal-enhanced, dehydrated,

Being in a dry or very cold environment can cause your nose to run.

Neuzil says it’s a defense mechanism of sorts:

“It’s a compensatory response by the body in response to the dry air,” said Neuzil. “The purpose of the nose in essence is a filter. It filters out dirt, pollen and other contaminants it also moisture and heat to the air before getting to the lungs.

Basically, the nose is producing increased fluid to do what it was designed to do.

“If you notice many times a person’s nose will drain excessively during cold weather. For the most part, it’s clear and can be very excessive. When a nose becomes too dry it can become very congested as well so the nose will make extra moisture to compensate.”

One way to counter the excessive moisture is to add some to your sinuses. A moisturizing saline spray can give your nose a little extra fluid to keep it healthy while potentially avoiding an “overflow.”

Coincidentally, Neuzil developed an herbal-enhanced, non-medicate nasal spray. Dr. Neuzil’s Irrigator nasal cleansing spray essential oils have natural moisturizing properties that help keep nasal passages healthy.

 

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Saline Sprays Help Children with Sniffles

The cold and flu season is really kicking into high gear. Coughs and sniffles are likely unwelcome guests in your home, especially if you have children in school or day care.  Runny noses, uncovered coughs and sneezes, and unwashed hands are invitations to get sick.

Because colds are the result of a virus, there’s no cure. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, antibiotics may used to combat some symptoms but caution against giving medication to children under two years old.

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A saline nasal spray can help soothe irritated sinuses in children without concern about side effects from medicine.

Children who are suffering from nasal congestion should clean the nasal passages using a saline rinse. A neti pot or similar sinus rinses can be effective although possibly messy and unpleasant for a youngster.

A saline nasal spray can be very effective and you can find products that have essential oils added to make the treatment more pleasant while moisturizing nasal passages.  The additional moisture will help preserve the natural protectants in your child’s nose.

Show your child how to safely and carefully insert the nasal spray bottle into her nose and to distribute the spray effectively.  Make sure she uses a tissue to wipe her nose afterwards and, of course, wash hands afterwards.

Non-medicated nasal saline sprays can be used frequently throughout the day to provide relief but consult with your pediatrician about how often it can be used.

Why am I sneezing during Christmas?

We look forward to the holidays for so many reasons: the smell of a Christmas tree, a warm, cozy fire and delicious food to name a few.

For some allergy sufferers, these aromatic symbols of the season can actually make you say “ahchoo” instead of “Ho, Ho, Ho.”

  • According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, many people experience sniffling,
    Christmas tree allergies, mold, conifer trees, fragrance allergies, sniffles, sneezing

    Mold spores may be the other “gifts” found under your Christmas tree.

    itchy eyes and nose, and shortness of breath due to a Christmas tree allergy. That’s because some conifer trees carry mold spores that trigger allergic reactions or even asthma. Experts recommend putting the tree in the garage or an enclosed porch for several days until it dries. Give it a good shake outside before bringing it in to decorate.

  • Some will artificial sprays and candles to enhance holiday fragrances. But those strong smells can also trigger sneezing and sniffles so you might want to tone them down a little, especially if your holiday guests seem uncomfortable.
  • Many people may not realize that smoke from a fireplace or wood-burning stove is air pollution. The tiny smoke particles which are inhaled may cause coughing and congestion and can even affect your lungs.
  • Delicious holiday meals may be filled with certain foods that trigger allergies. Because a person may react with sniffles, sneezing and coughing after eating a meal, they may not realize they have food allergies.

Using an herbal-enhanced nasal spray before you are potentially exposed to the airborne irritants at a holiday party will even help protect your sinuses by moisturizing passages so that you can focus on holiday cheer instead of holiday achoo. If symptoms persist, consider seeking help from a medical professional.

 

Can I be having a Food Allergy?

 

Ah, the holidays!  Family… food… football… allergies!  That’s right.  The holiday season can be a dangerous time for people with food allergies – whether you are aware of the allergy or not.  And to compound the potential danger or discomfort, we tend to drop our guard during the holiday season festivities and, let’s be honest, eat things we wouldn’t normally eat in quantities we might not normally eat them.

food allergies, Anaphylaxis,

People with food allergies need to be careful about hidden foods on the holiday table.

Plus, who wants to insult the host by asking what the ingredients are in that holiday delicacy – even if it could put you or a loved one at risk?  The most common food allergies are egg, dairy, tree nut, peanut, soy, wheat and shellfish. By themselves, these ingredients can be very obvious.   But sometimes, they’re hidden in otherwise “safe” foods found at the holiday table.  So what exactly is a food allergy and how do you know if you have one?

Often times we think of a food allergy triggering something referred to as Anaphylaxis, a sudden and severe reaction involving two or more body systems. These symptoms can affect the skin (rash, hives, itching), the respiratory tract (tightness in the chest, wheezing or shortness of breath) or even gastrointestinal tract (stomach ache, pains or diarrhea). The symptoms may require a response by 911, emergency room evaluation and use of epinephrine.

What are some of the milder symptoms that you may experience? Some of the more common “healthy” food allergies are to peanuts, bananas, milk and strawberries. If you notice that after eating or drinking you experience any negative symptoms, such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, a quick accumulation of mucus in the throat or a post nasal drainage, you can suspect a food allergy. You may notice an itching of your skin with or without a rash.

Difficulty breathing, symptoms of asthma or even shortness of breath may be triggered by a food allergy. Food allergies can trigger stomach aches or pains with or without diarrhea which may cause people to think that it’s more of an irritable bowel disease. It’s important to note that Irritable Bowel Disease may become worse with food allergies and people with Irritable Bowel Disease may benefit form an allergy evaluation.

If you experience, these symptoms, you should contact your medical practitioner. And in case you were wondering, yes, you can grow into or out of food allergies and the danger or severity of reaction can also change over time.

 

What’s the right way to blow your nose?

Certain sounds are associated with seasons. You hear jingle bells in the winter, birds chirping in spring and kids yelling with delight when school is out marks that summer is here.

Aside from the rustle of falling leaves, you’ll also hear a lot more sniffles this time of year due to colds, the flu and fall allergies.

Of course, blowing the nose helps with this symptom. But is it always a good thing?

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There’s a right way and a wrong way to blow your nose.

The truth is that ignoring nasal symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, runny nose or thick nasal discharge can lead to other problems:

  • Nasal congestion reduces the sense of smell.
  • When you can’t breathe through your nose, you resort to mouth breathing which can increase the risk of mouth and throat infections. Mouth breathing also pulls all the pollution and airborne germs directly into the lungs.
  • Breathing cold dry air into the lungs will make secretions thick, slows the cleaning cilia as well as the passage of oxygen into the blood stream.

So, yes, blowing your nose is important but there is a right and wrong way to do it.  If you blow too hard, you’ll cause pressure and some mucus to build up in the sinus cavities. That may lead to further infection.

According to experts, the proper method is to blow one nostril at a time, gently. You should also use a saline nasal rinse to remove excess mucous.

If the congestion lingers for a long time or develops into something more, that’s the time to visit your medical practitioner for a consult.

 

 

Is it a cold or do I have allergies?

It is the time of year when fall allergies and colds tend to overlap. The symptoms of each can be similar and therefore can make it difficult to know how to treat what ails you.

“A cold generally is more of an upper viral infection that affects the nose and throat,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Central Florida. “My patients will tell me that they had a scratchy throat that has gotten better but now their head is stuffy and their nose is running but everything is clear. These are cold-like symptoms.”

Neuzil explains further the differences between cold symptoms and allergies in this video. He also explains when you should see a medical practitioner to get help.

Why does my nose itch each fall?

The news headlines and your nose are probably telling you what you already know. The fall ragweed season is upon us and many people are likely to suffer through it.

Symptoms may include itchy eyes and nose, a scratchy throat, frequent sneezing, and maybe a cough.

ragweed, fall allergies, sinus rinse

Fall allergy sufferers can often blame ragweed for their discomfort. Rinsing nasal passages regularly can help.

Visit your local drug store and you’ll see shelves stocked with antihistamines, a variety of saline sprays and more to help you get relief.

According to Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida, people who suffer to the point that the pollen is affecting their quality of life should meet with a medical professional to get relief.

But Neuzil also advises taking precautionary steps to avoid symptoms. It can be as simple as:

  • Keep windows and doors closed to keep out airborne pollutants.
  • If you spend a lot of time outdoors, remove your clothing, wash your face and even wash your hair to get rid of any pollen that may have gotten on you.
  • Install HEPA filters in your home. Found in most home improvement stores, they’ll help filter out pollen that gets into the air conditioning system.
  • Rinse your nose! Seriously. It’s the same as washing out anything else that has trapped dirt and other pollutants.

Some choose to use the ancient saline rinsing system called the “Neti Pot.” This natural therapy involves making a saline concoction that is poured through the nose and helps rinse out nasal passages. But there have been recent cases of people getting very ill from bacteria in the water so doctors recommend using distilled water in the Neti Pot.

However, Neuzil cautions Neti Pot and saline rinse users that the simple saline alone can lead to other sinus problems. If used too much it can dry out nasal passages and he suggests you consult with a practitioner if you use them frequently.

There are other methods, however. In fact, Neuzil developed a non-medicated saline nasal spray that is enhanced with essential oils which help moisturize nasal passages.

Whatever your allergy therapy of choice, it’s important that you don’t try to suffer through the season without getting appropriate relief.