Runny, blocked or congested nose … This is a common problem, which has several origins. It appears following a viral or bacterial infection, or even following an allergic reaction. In any case, it is an unpleasant episode to live. Blowing your nose does not allow you to overcome it and, at best, provides a few minutes of respite. Quality of life and sleep suffers.
Nasal washing with seawater or physiological saline offers a simple solution, without significant side effects, which, if practiced, cleans the nose and improves respiratory comfort.
How to clean your nose? What instruments and products are needed?
Why Wash Your Nose?
We breathe about 12,000 liters of air every day. The air inspired by the nose does not go directly to the lungs but passes through specific anatomical structures.
The air we breathe through the nose first passes through the nostrils. There, eyelashes prevent the entry of insects or large particles. Then, this air circulates in the nasal cavities, complex cavities located behind the nose. These pits communicate with the sinuses, other cavities located around the nose.
All these cavities (sinuses and nasal cavities) are covered with a mucosa comprising cells carrying cilia.
The nasal cavities are open on the pharynx, allowing air to pass to the lungs.
Little is known about the exact process used when cleaning a nose. The mechanical action of water eliminates the mucus produced in excess, or whose composition has changed under the effect of the disease (thickened, it is badly evacuated towards the throat). Water would increase the frequency of eyelash flapping, causing mucus to migrate. This is what makes it effective in case of infection of the upper respiratory tract, such as a cold, or in case of rhinitis.
In addition to its action on the mucus, water drives out impurities and other dust, which is appreciated when one undergoes, for example, the effects of passive smoking. It clears the allergens responsible for inflammation, decreases the mediators of the latter, and, during a cold or flu epidemic, drives bacteria and viruses out of the nasal cavities, preventing infection.
But its benefits don’t stop there. The water used is not neutral. It is generally water with salt added, to which bicarbonate is sometimes added.
Why? Because water should not be used pure. Such water, deposited on the mucous membrane (and this is valid for the skin), attracts to it the minerals of the cells: the skin tries to balance the concentrations between the cells and the water. A water isotonic has a concentration identical to that of the skin. Hypertonic water has a higher concentration than that of skin cells. This is why, to avoid attacking the mucous membranes, the water must be at least isotonic.
The saline, often used for washing the nose, is isotonic.