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Chronic nasal congestion


Atrophy of the nasal mucous membrane is a common health condition, particularly in older age. 

It leads to dehydration of the meatus of the nose which in turn involves problems while sleeping. It is difficult to breathe. Strong nose blowing may cause nose bleeding. Long-term infections in the nasal area and in the sinuses are a frequent condition (chronic rhinosinusitis).

Decongestant nose drops, -sprays and -sticks with essential oils and synthetic sympathomimetics are recommended to bring relief but cleansing nasal lavages with isotonic saline solutions also are advised. In the case of acute rhinosinusitis accompanied by inflammations, purulent secretions etc. besides the lavages mainly topic and systemic corticosteroids and (macrolide) antibiotics are administered.

The disadvantages of drops and sprays are that patients get accustomed to the medication and become more and more dependent. Based on first-hand experience it can be beneficial to train the nasal muscles and hence support the internal microcirculation. For this purpose, it is sufficient to press the nose with assistance of the jaws for a split minute in upward direction, tear it down and, if possible, make a circling movement. It only takes a few minutes until the nose becomes decongested practically on its own. By the way, this also corresponds with the experience of joggers and runners who observed that the nose becomes hydrated with continuous exercise and often even begins to drip.

A very simple alternative to get rid of viscid mucus on the nasal mucous membrane without administering isotonic saline solution is holding the nose into the water jet during the morning shower - without breathing though. Thus, while holding one's breath, the water can run into the nose and dissolve any mucous which then can be removed without any problems or bleeding while strongly breathing out. Admittedly, this procedure needs getting used to and in the case of a sensitive nose can lead to an unpleasant sensation in the beginning which however will disappear after some days. Notice: since the bothering dried mucous is rich in salts and hence usually is hypertonic, the administration of isotonic saline solutions can be limited to medical prescriptions.

Apart from that, prolonged inflammations beginning on the nostrils often are triggered by removing hairs that grow out of the nose. In this case, the follicle becomes inflamed due to bacterial infections. Inflammations of the nasal mucous membrane can also be triggered by pollen or by the chlorine water in indoor pools. Swim goggles equipped with a nosepiece can help protect against chlorine water. This equipment allows exhaling underwater without getting in contact with the water.

PS: High sensitivity to pollen (hay fever) often can be reduced in the long term by consuming 1-2 teaspoons of commercial pollen at breakfast.

Dr. Hans Lautenschläger

Please note: The contribution is based on the state of the art at the revision date.

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Revision: 27.05.2021