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Why you should not blow your nose too hard

Why you should not blow your nose too hard

When you blow your nose too hard, you increase pressure in your sinus, ear and brain. Here's what happens next.

Written by Shraddha Rupavate |Updated : December 23, 2014 4:27 PM IST

Blowing the nose when it's blocked with mucus seems to be relieving when you're down with cold. But does it actually help relieve symptoms? And, is it the right thing to do? Researchers say blowing the nose too hard could be dangerous.

Sinus infection: According to recent study conducted at the University of Virginia, cited in The Wall Street Journal, when you blow your nose your generate 10 times more pressure than you do while coughing or sneezing. Sometimes, the pressure generated can be so intense that the accumulated mucus may even propel into the sinus spaces and drainage passageways. This can cause sinus infections, making your condition worse. An earlier study by Gwaltney JM J revealed that a single nose blow can propel nearly 1 ml of viscous mucus or fluid into the intranasal sinuses. Further, blowing also forces air into the sinus spaces, giving rise to mucus bubbles that increase intranasal pressure. This can cause headache and inflammation of the sinuses or sinusitis [1]. According to Dr Rohit Vishnoi, Senior Consultant, ENT, Delhi based Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, when blockage of sinus ostium (an opening that connect sinus to the nasal cavity) become worse, surgical intervention may be needed to remove the blockage.

Ear infection: Sometimes, you may even hear a crackling sound in your ear while blowing your nose. This means that generated pressure has forced the mucus to get drained into the middle ear. This can cause ear infection and is the reason why you may experience ear pain when you're suffering from cold.[2]

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Here are some tips to clear nasal congestion with minimal risks:

  • Before blowing the nose, moisten it with a saline spray. Practice this especially when you're blowing your nose early in morning, after the nasal passage has dried out throughout the night.
  • Close one nostril using your thumb and gently blow the other. Make sure you're not applying too much pressure on the other nostril that you're blocking.
  • In case, blowing the nose doesn't help you, you could use an over-the-counter nasal decongestant or nasal drops to clear the passage. But don't make it a habit because it might dry out your nasal passage and make your susceptible to respiratory infections.
  • Alternatively, you could inhale steam or sip hot soup to clear your blocked nose.

Image source: Getty

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  1. Gwaltney JM Jr, Hendley JO, Phillips CD, Bass CR, Mygind N, Winther B. Nose blowing propels nasal fluid into the paranasal sinuses. Clin Infect Dis. 2000 Feb;30(2):387-91. PubMed PMID: 10671347.
  2. Sakikawa Y, Kobayashi H, Nomura Y. Changes in middle ear pressure in daily life. Laryngoscope. 1995 Dec;105(12 Pt 1):1353-7. PubMed PMID: 8523991.

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