When I was a kid my Mom often used the expression, “keep your nose clean.” That of course meant to stay out of trouble. However, for the past five years that phrase has taken on a whole new meaning for me.
At the end of 2004 I had much-needed sinus surgery which made it possible for me to finally breath through my nose. Due to a terrible fall, teamed with years of sports injuries, I had been breathing through my mouth from the time I was 8 years old! That may not seem like such a big deal, but take it from me, breathing through your nose is highly underrated.
The nose serves a greater purpose than keeping glasses on your face 🙂 It actually acts as one of the body’s first lines of defense by trapping irritants, viruses, and bacteria and potentially keeping them from making their way to your lungs. It also warms the air your breath, and the simple act of breathing deeply through the nose has a very calming and centering effect on the entire body.
So, that gets me back to my main point – keeping your nose clean is an important component of overall health. It could even be the factor that keeps you from getting the flu virus or a nasty cold. If you are able to wash viruses away, they can’t ever take hold. In addition, it washes away dust and allergens.
The key is to simply treat cleaning your nasal passages as a crucial piece of daily hygiene. I know it seems a whole lot ickier than the act of washing your face or brushing your teeth, but it is no less important. And, once you get the hang of it, you will grow to like the clear headed feeling you get when your nose is nice and clean. The process for doing this is often referred to as “nasal irrigation”. Here are my tips for easing your way in.
NASAL IRRIGATION TIPS
- Try cleaning your nasal cavities in the shower. While you can also do this with your head tilted over the bathroom sink, I find that doing it in the shower is much easier.
- Neti pots are often recommended for this purpose. The premise is to use gravity to let a saline solution drain from one side of the nose out the other.
- I prefer to use a squeeze bottle to actually force the warm saline solution gently through my sinus passages. I carefully prep the squeeze bottle by cleaning it, filling it with the recommended amount of warm water and a packet of salt. For an added cooling effect, I add a drop of eucalyptus oil to the mixture. Once in the shower, I tilt my head forward, insert the bottle into my left nostril, give a gentle squeeze, exhale through my nose and swallow slightly (to relieve any built up pressure). Then I repeat in the right nostril, always going slowly.
- Remember that the sinus tissue is very delicate, so don’t rush the process. Nasal irrigation can cause pressure to build up in your ear canals. After you have finished the process, blow your nose gently
If this all sounds to complicated, you can use a prepackaged saline mist. My favorite is Simply Saline Nasal Mist in “Cold Formula” with Menthol. It has an easy to use applicator that sprays a fine mist into the nasal passage. After a quick spritz, I just blow my nose to keep the area clean.