Has the rainy weather got to your nose?
IF YOUR nose has been runny and stuffy of late, it could be because of the cold, rainy season typical of December.
While there are multiple causes for blocked noses, breathing in cold air is one of them. It is said to trigger nasal congestion and even wheezing, leaving behind an uncomfortable sensation.
Dr Tay Hin Ngan, director of HN Tay ENT Head & Neck Thyroid Sleep Robotic Surgery, said the nose moistens and warms the air that we breathe in before it reaches the lungs.
When the air is cold and dry, Dr Tay said, "the nose has to work extra hard to achieve these objectives by increasing blood flow to itself".
This causes the soft tissues to swell up and increase production of mucus, he added.
Dr Tay said a blocked nose may also be caused by either structural obstruction or obstruction by swelling and mucus.
Short-term nasal obstruction can result from the common cold or flu, which are viral infections, while a more chronic form of blocked nose could be a result of allergic rhinitis.
Allergic rhinitis, which is a nasal allergy usually caused by dust mites, is often incorrectly referred to as "sinis", said Dr Tay.
Symptoms - such as sneezing and itching, as well as a runny nose - occur mostly at night and in the morning. These tend to improve by midday.
Other causes of a blocked nose include sinusitis - or infection of the sinuses - and vasomotor rhinitis, which is not caused by allergies.
To alleviate a blocked nose, Dr Tay advises the use of an anti-histamine or decongestant if the symptoms are caused by an infection, allergy or vasomotor rhinitis.
These are easily available at pharmacies, in an oral form or as nasal sprays.
For the treatment of sinusitis or blocked nose due to structural causes, more targeted treatment might be required.
This could range from antibiotics to nasal irrigation, and, in more severe cases, surgery.
So, if you find yourself suffering from a blocked nose, the first step would be to see your family physician, who can treat acute infections and simple allergies with medication.
Over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal sprays can also work for less serious cases.