Caution: Is nose-blowing bad for your health?

5:13PM, Jun 11th 2009

Tissues and hankies get a good workout in the cold and flu season, but blowing your nose may not actually be the best option for your health.

Tissues and hankies get a good workout in the cold and flu season, but blowing your nose may not actually be the best option for your health.

So says a team of researchers from the University of Virginia, led by Dr J. Owen Hendley, who investigated nasal stuffiness, mucus flow and expulsion.

The team performed CT scans and dripped dye into the nasal cavaties on volunteers, tracking the trail of mucus as they coughed, sneezes and blew their noses.

Enormous pressure was created whenever the subjects blew their noses, propelling mucus into their sinuses every time. While this in itself may not cause harm, it could shoot viruses or bacteria back into the sinuses, possibly leading to infections. 

In contrast, coughing and sneezing generated little – if any – pressure on the nasal cavities.

So what are you supposed to do – sniff the snot back up? Not quite. Dr Anil Kumar Lalwani, of the New York University Langone Medical Center, says the proper way to do it is to blow one nostril at a time. He also advises taking decongestants to help reduce excess pressure.

comments powered by Disqus

Related articles