While most Houston allergies are at bay in the winter, our sinuses still take a beating. Cold weather stimulates nerves within the nasal cavities. This cause swelling, congestion, and mucous production in an attempt to maintain warm and humid airflow. With Houston's varying winter temperatures, our sinuses can get pretty confused.
Some allergens are still prevalent in the late Fall and through the winter season as well. Molds that thrive in the cool damp weather are the largest offenders.
Sometimes cold weather can cause nasal congestion, drainage, or a persistent postnasal drip and cough. Here are a few ways to help take care of your sinuses and treat the symptoms.
Nasal Irrigations with Saline
The household name is the Netti Pot, in our office we prefer the NeilMed Sinus Rinse. They're known as nasal irrigations or nasal washes. Whatever delivery method you choose, nasal irrigations with saline are effective year-round. It cleanses the nose, sinuses and helps reduce exposure time to airborne allergens and irritants. It can also assist in clearing thick, slow-moving mucous that tends to be worse during the winter months.
Nasal Sprays and Ointments
You can treat dryness and crusting or sores in the nose with saline nasal sprays and/or ointments. These help prevent air from drying the natural mucosa. Applying a tiny bit of antibiotic ointment to the nasal septum with a q-tip can help. AYR saline gel can also help with dryness (found over-the-counter at most pharmacies).
Humidifier and HEPA Air Filtration
The combination of a humidifier and HEPA air filtration in the bedroom can be a huge help. They can optimize the air you breath during sleep through the Winter months. Since we spend more time in our bedrooms than other rooms, this can have a very positive impact on our noses.
Avoid use of decongestants, which open the nose and make dryness and thick mucous worse. Daily allergy medications (anti-histamines) can also contribute to nasal dryness. If your doctor approves, you may want to pause their use during winter months.
Prescription medications may also improve nasal symptoms during the winter months. Ipratropium nasal spray (Atrovent nasal) is one of these. It blocks the nerve signal that causes congestion and drainage in response to cold weather. Talk to your doctor to see if this is an option for you.
While these are some suggestions, your best chance at sinus relief is with a consultation with one of our doctors. Call us at 346-413-9313 to schedule your consultation.