It’s the time of year for allergies, cold, and flu, which means if you haven’t already had your bout of stuffy nose, it’s going to hit you sooner or later.
But is blowing your nose all day really the answer?
According to Purvi Parikh, M.D., an allergist and immunologist at the Allergy and Asthma Network, it may actually be doing more harm than good. She told Men’s Health: “Blowing your nose with too much force can actually cause breakage of vessels and undue stress.”
Blowing your nose could also blow irritants into your ears and sinuses, which could end up turning into an ear or sinus infection.
When it comes down to it, no matter how much you blow, your nose will keep producing mucus. Your stuffiness is due to your nasal passages swelling, not your mucus. Here’s how to bring that down and get you breathing again:
- Take a steamy shower. Warm air and steam can help humidify your nose, which opens your nasal passage and gets rid of congestion. Then you can blow out what’s actually blocking you. A warm shower, a bit hotter than you’re used to, should do the trick. If you have some extra time, you can take a more direct route: boil a pot of water and stand over it, inhaling the steam for about half an hour.
- Try a nasal spray. These can treat inflammation far better than just blowing your nose. Nasacort and Flonase are good solutions for this, but they’re for long-term snifflers—they take up to seven days to kick in. Faster sprays like Afrin and oxymetazoline can actually make your congestion worse, and they’re potentially addictive.
- Take some antihistamines. Even if your congestion is from a cold, not allergies, pills like Zyrtec, Allegra, or Claritin can still help you get dry. Skip the decongestants—they only serve to keep you stuffed up.