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#1
Old 12-09-2007, 02:34 PM
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Solutions for the pain of breathing through only one nostril

I'm sick. The kind of sick where you can only breathe through one nostril (or your mouth). I can't fall asleep unless I'm breathing through my nose, and I usually breath through my nose while sleeping. This results in the following scenario (which I think is somewhat common, right?): I wake up at 3am and the nostril I can breath through is dry and sore from doing double duty. It hurts to breath through it. Then I can't fall back asleep, and sadness ensues.

Here's what I've tried:
Humidifier (insufficient)
Lotion inside the nose (temporarily sufficient, but other negative consequences)
Nose-clearing drugs (don't work)

So, any bright ideas?
#2
Old 12-09-2007, 02:38 PM
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What sometimes works for me is to sleep with the side of my head on the pillow so that the non-working nostril is the higher one. Something about the gravity that clears it up. YMMV.
#3
Old 12-09-2007, 02:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Southern Yankee
What sometimes works for me is to sleep with the side of my head on the pillow so that the non-working nostril is the higher one. Something about the gravity that clears it up. YMMV.
Totally true. That's the one thing that has kept me from insomnia. But I find that it only works some of the time, and even when it does I wake up several times a night and get less than restful sleep.
#4
Old 12-09-2007, 02:43 PM
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Sinus infections are a bane for me (just coming out from under another one now). I usually sleep on one side most comfortably -- but in times like this, I'll lie propped up into a semi-recline position with a tri-pillow to let the gunk drain so I can sleep.

If you're having that much problem, Richard Parker -- can't your doctor prescribe something to help your sinus drain properly?
#5
Old 12-09-2007, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ice Wolf
If you're having that much problem, Richard Parker -- can't your doctor prescribe something to help your sinus drain properly?
I don't know, actually. Did you have a particular drug in mind? I find that decongestants generally stop my runny nose, but just turn the whole thing into a brick and prevent even the shifting technique described above. I've tried that one that starts with a "G"..guinafesin or something. It doesn't seem to work either. Am I missing a class of drugs here?
#6
Old 12-09-2007, 03:09 PM
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Pseudoephedrine can be helpful. I'm on it right now to help clear up a raging sinus/ear infection, and it's helping quite a bit.
#7
Old 12-09-2007, 03:12 PM
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Ditto keeping the plugged nostril high. My nostrils take turns all night long.

You might try putting some Condon's Nasal Jelly up there. It's made by the Wonderful Dream Salve Company. Not perfect, but a good choice of "lotion".

Nasal decongestant sprays may be appropriate here. They get a lot of bad press, but not all of it is deserved. You can avoid making a habit of it, but still get some useful breaking of the cycle.

You might also try sinus washing, for example "Sinus Rinse" from Nielmed. I enjoy a nice improvement from these. They are not exactly for opening things up, and even say not to use if the nostril is completely plugged, but they can help keep the nostrils in better condition so this gets to be less of a problem in the first place.

You might also try staying more upright so the blood pressure in your head is reduced. This reduces swelling and plugging in your nostrils. AStronauts report that this situation is one of the more noticeable difficulties of zero-G living.

You can also try holding your glottis closed (like you're about to clear your throat or cough, or like you're a Scott pronouncing a "T"), then holding your nostrils closed, then taking a mouthful of air and closing your lips and pressurizing your mouth. This presurizes your upper airways including your nostrils, but does not pressurize the blood in your head like holding your breath under pressure would. This drives excess blood from swollen airway tissues back into your bloodstream.
#8
Old 12-09-2007, 03:13 PM
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>like you're a Scott pronouncing a "T"

Weird. I was trying to describe a Scottish accent, but apparently people named "Scott" talk funny....
#9
Old 12-10-2007, 01:07 AM
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An overly simple point to make, but: don't forget to keep a glass of water by your bed, and take a big drink if you wake up with a dry, blocked nostril. I have constant problems with one side or the other closing up on me, and when things get dry in there it can be like your air passage is glued shut. Take a mouthful of water and hold it in there for a minute or so, so the water can wick up through the back end of your nasal passages and loosen things up. It won't solve the problem completely, but it helps.

Of course, if you're prone to getting up in the night to hit the bathroom, drinking might exacerbate that problem. A trade-off you may have to live with, depending on your comfort priority.
#10
Old 12-10-2007, 02:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Parker
I don't know, actually. Did you have a particular drug in mind? I find that decongestants generally stop my runny nose, but just turn the whole thing into a brick and prevent even the shifting technique described above. I've tried that one that starts with a "G"..guinafesin or something. It doesn't seem to work either. Am I missing a class of drugs here?
I think guaifenesin is a cough suppressant, so I doubt it'd help.

Nasal decongestant sprays are very helpful for many people, and don't cause rebound congestion if you use them for three days or less.
#11
Old 12-10-2007, 10:24 AM
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Get one of these Water Pik nasal lavage adapters (and a Water Pik machine if you don't already have one). Put just under a level teaspoon in a cup of bloodwarm water and dissolve it good then pump about half of that cup of water up your left nostril while it runs through your sinus passages and emerges on the right, then swap and irrigate from the right.

It washes all the gunk out, restores the poor little nasal cilia to some semblance of functionality, and the slightly hypertonic salinity reduces swelling in all the membranes.
#12
Old 12-10-2007, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GilaB
I think guaifenesin is a cough suppressant, so I doubt it'd help.
Actually guaifenesin is an expectorant (thins the secretions so they're easier to hork out); does nothing directly to actually suppress a cough. I suppose if you're able to cough up what ails you because it's thinner, then you might cough less... There are combination products which include both guaifenesin and dextromethorphan (sp?); that *is* a cough suppressant. For example Robitussin DM.
Quote:
Originally Posted by napier
You might try putting some Condon's Nasal Jelly up there
Of course, one should be careful not to mistype and acquire **naval** jelly by accident

ahunter3 mentioned the water-pik system which can be useful; a similar though lower-tech solution would be a neti pot.
#13
Old 12-10-2007, 12:11 PM
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I came here to mention Neti Pots. My neti pot saved me when I last visited my parents in Florida. Apparently, they live in the town where allergens come to retire. Until I had surgery this fall, my Neti pot was the only thing that cleared out both my nostrils at the same time. I used the neti pot as well as my allergy meds, but it helped in ways that the meds alone did not.

Neti pot links:

Wikipedia

SDMB:
June 2007, January 2007, January 2006.
#14
Old 12-10-2007, 01:09 PM
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Neti Pots work really well for many people. Others find it weird-beyond-tolerance to utilize them without feeling as if they were deliberately drowning themselves, or find that they get 90% of the stuff all over the front of their shirt or in their hair, etc.

In my case, earthy-crunchy & authentically traditional takes a back seat to the convenience of electric power pulsed waterjet that you can use from a normal standing posture in front of the sink.

I've also been known to dissolve Benadryl caplet dust into my lavage water and pipe it up into the target membranes. Take THAT you freaking drippy faucet!
#15
Old 12-10-2007, 01:49 PM
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You might also have luck, as I do, with those Breathe Right Nasal Strips.
#16
Old 12-10-2007, 05:03 PM
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I sometimes have some luck with a combination of pseudoephedrine and diphenhydramine. I think what's going on is that if I've had and been trying to clear a stuffy nose long enough, all my nasal passages are irritated and swollen. The diphenhydramine helps reduce swelling enough that I'm not so uncomfortable. It also gives me terrible cottonmouth, which encourages me to drink more water, which thins the mucus and kind of helps.
#17
Old 12-10-2007, 06:28 PM
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Speaking in generalities, & as a physician who treats lots of chronic nasal and sinus conditions, I join the chorus in suggesting trials of a neti pot may be helpful for many folks with complaints similar to yours. YMMV, I never examined you, we have no therapeutic relationship, etc. etc.

pseudoephedrine should really be avoided for all but the most occasional use, oxymetazoline nasal spray is a great way to develop a Nose Jones for more oxymetazoline nasal spray, and nasal steroids, while useful on occasion, are not cheap.

I loves me my neti pot when things are stuffy.
#18
Old 12-11-2007, 12:31 PM
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Having had severe allergies most of my life, I've learned that if my nose feels blocked on one side and blowing it produces no excretions, it's usually not mucus, but that the irritated sinus tissue is actually swelled, blocking the cavity. In this case, decongestants will be pretty much useless. Try an anti-inflammatory like Advil and see if that helps open the passage at all.
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