Healthworks: Stop blowing your nose!

As we say goodbye to cold and flu season, it's time to say hello to spring allergies. Sniffling and sneezing is inevitable for many and that leads to blowing your nose, but one doctor says take it easy.

It's often first instinct to blow your nose and get rid of that extra mucus, but be careful how you do it. Dr. Michael Benninger is a head and neck expert at Cleveland Clinic. He says there are potential risks in blowing your nose too hard. 

"There's fairly good evidence that the harder you blow your nose, the more likely it is to open the small little openings into the sinuses and if you have viruses or bacteria in the nose you can actually force them into the sinuses," said Dr. Michael Benninger from the Cleveland Clinic.

Research shows one nose blow can send a milliliter of mucus into parts of your nasal passages and sinuses. According to Dr. Benninger, if that mucus contains bad bacteria or viruses and it's pushed back into the sinuses it can increase the likelihood of a sinus infection. Instead, Dr. Benninger recommends not blowing your nose at all, or doing so very gently. He says saline mist is a good alternative to relieve congestion.

"Spray a little saline in the nose," said Dr. Benninger. "They can gently sniff it into the back of their mouth and either swallow or spit out any mucus they may have, or a very gentle blow."

Dr. Benninger adds that gently blowing each nostril separately might be helpful as well, but warns that a forceful blow may cause more harm than good. 
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