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Blowing Your Nose May Be More Hazardous Than Helpful

February 10, 2009

Although it may come as second nature to blow your nose to alleviate stuffiness, some argue that it reverses the flow of mucus into the sinuses and slows down the drainage.

Dr. J Owen Hendley, and other pediatric infectious disease researchers at the University of Virginia, conducted CT scans and other measurements as subjects coughed, sneezed and blew their noses, according to the New York Times.  The subjects, in some cases, had an opaque dye dripped into their rear nasal cavities.

Coughing and sneezing generated little, if any, pressure in the nasal cavities.  However, nose blowing generated enormous pressure, equivalent to a person’s diastolic blood pressure reading, Hendley said.  This pressure propelled mucus into the sinuses every time.  Hendley also said that it was unclear whether this was harmful, but added that during sickness it could shoot viruses or bacteria into the sinuses, and possibly cause further infection.

Dr. Anil Kumar Lalwani, the chairman of the department of otolaryngology at the New York University Langone Medical Center, said the proper method is to blow one nostril at a time and to take decongestants.  This prevents a buildup of excess pressure.

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