Cold and flu season can mean a lot of time spent blowing your nose. If you tend to blow a bit, well, aggressively, here are some reasons to go easy:
- Blowing your nose hard can create enough pressure in the nasal cavity to propel mucus into the sinuses, according to a study conducted back in 2000 at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. It’s not clear if this is harmful, but if you have an upper respiratory infection, bacteria or viruses in the mucus could cause a sinus infection, said Dr. J. Owen Hendley, one of the study’s authors. His advice: Blow your nose gently and one side at a time.
- Forcefully blowing your nose may also send bacteria from the nose to the inner ear and cause an ear infection.
- Blowing your nose too often or too hard can rupture the small blood vessels in the nose and cause nosebleeds, especially if the mucosal lining is already irritated from a cold or low-humidity conditions.
- Despite popular belief, it’s very unlikely that you’ll rupture your eardrum if you blow your nose too hard. The sensations you may feel in your ears while blowing are due to vibrations resulting from pressure changes. If you have a ruptured eardrum, however, don’t blow your nose while it is healing.
- In very rare cases, forceful nose blowing has been linked with unusual conditions, including eye socket fractures and air in the intracranial cavity (the space in the skull where the brain sits).
Also see Can Hugs Head Off Colds?
Published November 11, 2016