Your Nose: The Guardian Of Your Lungs
You might not think your nose is a “vital organ,” but indeed it is! To understand its importance, all that most people need to experience is a bad cold. Nasal congestion and a runny nose have a noticeable effect on quality of life, energy level, ability to breathe, ability to sleep, and ability to function in general. Connected to your nose are your sinus cavities, which are intricately involved with and affected by nasal function and can often be confused or lumped together with the nose in terms of symptoms, complaints and treatments. In many ways, the nose and sinuses should be considered separately.
Why Is Your Nose So Important?
It processes the air that you breathe before it enters your lungs. Most of this activity takes place in and on the turbinates, located on the sides of the nasal passages. In an adult, 18,000 to 20,000 liters of air pass through the nose each day.
Your Nose Protects Your Health By:
* Filtering all that air and retaining particles as small as a pollen grain with 100% efficiency.
* Humidifying the air that you breathe, adding moisture to the air to prevent dryness of the lining of the lungs and bronchial tubes.
* Warming cold air to body temperature before it arrives in your lungs.
* Providing increased surface area and air contact for maintaining and developing normal immune function.
For these and many other reasons, normal nasal function is essential. Do your lungs a favor; take care of your nose.
Because the connection between the nose and lungs is so important, paying attention to problems in the nose--allergic rhinitis for instance – can reduce or avoid problems in the lungs such as bronchitis and asthma. Ignoring nasal symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, runny nose, or thick nasal discharge can aggravate lung problems and lead to other problems:
* Nasal congestion reduces the sense of smell.
* Mouth breathing causes dry mouth, which increases the risk of mouth and throat infections and reduces the sense of taste. Mouth breathing can badly impact dental health.
* Ignoring nasal allergies increases the chance that you will develop asthma; it also makes asthma worse if you already have it.
So, it is important to treat nasal symptoms promptly to prevent worsening of lung problems.
Tips To Improve The Health Of Your Nose And Lungs:
* If your nose is dry, its various functions will be impaired. Try over-the-counter salt-water (saline) nasal mists and sprays to help maintain nasal health. These can be used liberally and at your discretion, but larger volumes of salt water used less frequently will be less likely to leave you with nasal dryness that can result from dissolving your own normal nasal secretions.
* Beware of over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays; prolonged use of these sprays may damage the cilia that clear the nose and sinuses. Decongestants can become addictive and actually cause nasal congestion to get worse.
Medications Prescribed To Treat Nasal Problems:
Be aware of the nasal effects of other medications
* Diuretic blood pressure medications cause dryness in the nose and throat, making them more susceptible to germs and pollens.
* Many anti-anxiety medications also have a drying effect on the nose and throat.
* Birth control pills, blood pressure medicines called beta-blockers, and Viagra can cause increased nasal congestion.
* Eye drops can aggravate nasal symptoms when they drain into the nose with tears.
Be sure you understand their purpose. Each one is important and plays a separate role in treating nasal symptoms.
The foundation of the treatment of chronic nasal conditions is the regular use of an anti-inflammatory prescription nasal spray, which address all types of nose and sinus inflammation. Antihistamine sprays are also available to reduce sneezing, itching, and extra drainage from an otherwise non-congested nose. These sprays should be used only as directed by your doctor. Always aim nasal sprays to the side of the nose; spraying into the center of the nose can cause too much dryness, which may result in nosebleeds and frustration with their use.
Antihistamines effectively relieve sneezing, itching and runny nose, but they have no effect on nasal congestion at least in the short term. Over-the-counter antihistamines cause drowsiness, slow the cleaning function of the cilia, and increase the stickiness of nasal mucus--causing germs and pollens to stay in the nose longer. There are prescription antihistamines that do not have any of these side effects.
Decongestants help to unclog stopped up noses but do very little for runny noses and sneezing. They work much faster to unclog the nose, but to achieve this quick action, there are often side-effects such as dry mouth, nervousness, and insomnia. The correct dose often has to be customized to get the benefit without the side-effects.
Be aware of medication side effects; no medicine works well for all people, and all medications can cause side effects.