Dry nose: tips against dry nasal mucosa

Dry nose: tips against dry nasal mucosa

When hearing the word nose, everyone first thinks of smell; after all, the nose’s olfactory cells are responsible for perceiving thousands of smells. But that’s not the nose’s only job. As the body’s purification device, it does much more than that because it filters, humidifies and warms the air it inhales. In this way, it helps to protect against pathogens and foreign bodies. The nasal mucosa plays an important role but can only do its job if adequately cared for. How can a dry nose affect you? Here, you can find out how a dry nose develops and get tips on caring for dry nasal mucosa.

The nose: tasks as a cleaning apparatus

Every cell in our body needs oxygen. When air is inhaled, oxygen molecules enter the trachea and the bronchi via the upper respiratory tract – the nasal cavity and throat. This is where the actual respiration, the gas exchange, takes place.

The nose’s job is to clean, warm up and moisten the air we breathe in—about nine litres of airflow through the nose every minute. Pollutants, dust, germs and bacteria automatically enter the body with this air. This is where the self-cleaning mechanism of the respiratory tract and, in particular, the filter function of the nose come into action.


function of the nasal mucosa

Like the other airways, the nose has a special mucous membrane. There are ciliated cells embedded in their surface. Small mobile extensions, so-called cilia, which protrude from the mucous membrane, sit on these cells. The nasal mucosa is covered by a moisture film from secretions formed by the mucous membrane.

The secretion binds the particles that get into the nose when inhaled. The cilia then transport the particles caught in this way to the pharynx in a wavy motion like on a conveyor belt. The mucus is either coughed up, swallowed, or destroyed by the stomach acid.

Runny nose and inflamed nasal mucosa

If this self-cleaning mechanism is disturbed, such as the mucous membranes drying out, the mucus can no longer be transported away quickly enough. It forms an optimal breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. The mucous membrane becomes inflamed and swollen. The swollen nasal mucosa leads to a blocked nose and a runny nose ( rhinitis ).

If this inflammation spreads to the adjacent paranasal sinuses, one speaks of a sinus infection (sinusitis) or – if rhinitis and sinusitis are present simultaneously – of rhinosinusitis.

Since breathing through the nose is difficult when you have a cold, the air is taken in through the mouth. Viruses and bacteria can thus penetrate directly into the throat and bronchi.


Dry nose: Symptoms

A persistent nose, meaning dry nasal mucosa, is also known as rhinitis sicca. It often manifests through symptoms such as an unpleasant burning sensation, itching or the urge to sneeze. Viscous nasal discharge, nosebleeds, and bark and crusts are also signs. The nasal mucosa is then easily irritated and vulnerable.

A doctor’s visit is advisable if the symptoms persist for several weeks or the mucous membrane bleeds more frequently.

If the nasal mucous membranes dry out, the protective function of the nose is impaired. A dry nose can, therefore, increase susceptibility to pathogens. Chronic inflammation of the nasal mucosa can occur. Chronic wounds and even a hole in the nasal septum can also develop. Therefore, preventive measures should be taken to prevent the nasal mucous membranes from drying out.

Causes of dry nasal mucosa

Dry nasal mucosa can have various causes:

  • One of the leading causes of a dry nose is dry air, often caused by heating or air conditioning.
  • In addition, heavy exposure to smoke or dust in the air can dry out the mucous membranes.
  • A cold or an allergic cold can also promote a dry nose.
  • In addition, regular use of decongestant nasal sprays or certain medications can also dry out the mucous membrane.
  •  Dry nasal mucosa is also not uncommon during menopause.
  • In addition, mechanical irritation, such as nose picking, can promote a dry nose.
  • In rare cases, serious illnesses, such as a disrupted function of the thyroid gland, cause a dry nose.

Dry nose: 10 tips and home remedies

To support the self-cleaning mechanism of the nose, it is essential to keep the nasal mucosa moist at all times and to regenerate any damaged nasal mucosa. If a cold is imminent, you should immediately take appropriate measures to moisten the nose and care for the mucous membrane. But what do you do against a dry nose?

First, one should avoid triggering factors such as air conditioning and smoky and dusty environments. In addition, the following tips can help to care for the nasal mucosa:

  1. Ensure there is enough humidity in the rooms, for example, by placing a bowl of water on the heater or hanging a damp towel over the heater.
  2. nasal rinse can also be beneficial, flushing out dirt or pathogens that have gotten into the nose. A nasal douche can be used for this. Saltwater mixtures are used for rinsing, which are often additionally enriched with certain minerals. If you make the solution yourself, it is best to boil a teaspoon of salt in half a litre of water and then allow the solution to cool to room temperature.
  3. Alternatively, you can use a cotton ball soaked in saline solution and hold it in each nostril for about half a minute.
  4. Inhalation is also considered an effective home remedy. To do this, hot water that is enriched with either salt or sage is used.
  5. A nasal spray with seawater or essential oils is also suitable for moisturizing the mucous membranes. The active ingredients dexpanthenol or hyaluronic acid are exceptionally caring.
  6. In addition, decongestant nasal sprays can also be used for inflamed nasal mucosa. This not only moistens the nasal mucosa but also has an anti-inflammatory effect and supports the function of the cilia. The mucous membrane swells, and breathing through the nose is possible again. However, decongestant sprays should never be used for more than a week, as this can lead to nasal spray addiction.
  7. Special ointments or oils for moistening the nasal mucosa are available in pharmacies.
  8. You can also put a few drops of sesame, olive, or petroleum jelly in your nostrils and massage the fat well.
  9. Plants can also help to improve the indoor climate and increase humidity.
  10. Drink plenty, especially water and tea. This helps to moisten the nasal mucosa.

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