"The main thing you can do 'wrong' is blow your nose in a forceful way, which can make symptoms worse and be dangerous to 'pop' or hurt your ears," says Shawn Nasseri, MD, an ENT in Beverly Hills. A dramatic "achoo!" can actually cause you to rupture blood vessels in your nose, give you a headache, or cause an ear infection, says Dr. Nasseri. "For instance, it can force air to be sent from the nose to the middle ear, causing more damage. This creates the potential risk for a sinus infection by forcing bacteria and nasal mucus backward into the sinuses," he adds. These are all things we want to avoid, yes?
Roy Casiano, MD, rhinologist with Miami University Health Systems, says that along with blowing too hard, many of us make the mistake of actually blocking the airways of our nose as we blow into a tissue. "You don't want to squeeze your nose completely shut when you blow, because if you squeeze your nose shut and blow against that resistance, then you're likely to blow air not through your nose, but in a different direction. It could go into the sinuses causing pain or into the ear, causing ear symptoms," says Dr. Casiano. So when you do hold the tissue up to your nostrils, make sure you're offering your snot a clear pathway out.
Now that we've unpacked what not to do, let's take it back to the basics. Dr. Nasseri has a step-by-step guide to blowing your nose so you won't second guess yourself next time seasonal allergies make you ready to blow.
How to blow your nose properly in 3 easy steps
- Place a finger on one nostril.
- Take a small breath in and gently blow one side at a time into the tissue. "This helps control the amount of pressure being blown into the nasal cavity," explains Dr. Nasseri.
- After blowing your nose, dispose of the tissue and wash your hands like you mean business.
Stuffed up? Try this nettle tea for natural allergy relief:
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