The nose has many very important functions. It warms, humidifies and purifies the air we breathe. Its mucous membrane protects airways against external threats by filtering particles present in the air. The nose helps project the sound our voice and, of course, is responsible for our sense of smell.
The mucous membrane intercepts external threats with its mucous membrane, which blends with impurities. Then, the small nose hairs on the mucous membrane direct these impurities toward the throat and stomach. Stomach acids permanently eliminate these impurities. Sneezing is another way of getting rid of impurities. Proper nasal hygiene helps the mucous membrane protect the body.
Nasal hygiene and infections
Millions of Canadians are affected by colds each year. On average, adults will suffer from one to two colds each year. There is no cure for the common cold, only ways of reducing its symptoms (runny nose, cough, nasal congestion, etc.).
The use of saline water is a safe and effective way to relieve cold symptoms or sinusitis. Clearing nasal passages diminishes nasal congestion and helps to prevent the presence of viruses and bacteria.
Nasal hygiene and allergies
The nose is in constant contact with allergens (mites, pollen, and mould). Some people develop allergic reactions accompanied by nasal congestion and sneezing. In addition to reducing symptoms, the use of saline water eliminates allergens found in the mucous membrane.
Nose care, implementing a routine
Preserving respiratory health begins with a healthy environment. Here are a few tips to decrease the number of threats in your environment:
- Avoid carpets as much as possible.
- Don't let dust accumulate in your home.
- Clean your house regularly.
- Maintain proper humidity levels in your home.
- Avoid smoking or inhaling second-hand smoke.
Proper nasal hygiene is maintained by cleaning the nose regularly and should be part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth. Using saline water based products helps clean nasal cavities and eliminate impurities. Additionally, more frequent use of saline solutions is sometimes justified, for instance:
- during allergy season
- when you have a respiratory tract infection (i.e. a cold or sinusitis)
- if nasal passages are dry
Several products are available on the market in the form of droppers, single-dose ampoules, nasal sprays, and flushers. The product you choose will depend on your age and your personal needs and preferences.
There are saline water based formulations available said to be isotonic or hypertonic. Isotonic products contain the same salt concentration as human body fluids, while hypertonic solutions contain a higher salt concentration. There are also nasal sprays with a flow mist that varies from low pressure to high pressure and certain products that contain eucalyptus. It can sometimes be difficult to make a choice, but your pharmacist is there to help you make the choice that best suits your needs.
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