What to Do for Dry Nose and Sinuses

Man holding the bridge of his nose.
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If you live in an arid environment, you probably know that dry nasal and sinus passageways can lead to other problems including thick mucous and frequent bloody noses.

Ideally, the mucous membranes lining the sinuses produce mucus which flows into and through the nasal passageways, sweeping out foreign debris including bacteria as it goes. When mucus is inhibited from flowing freely by dry conditions problems occur. Dry nasal passageways may lead to inflammation of the blood vessels in the nose and sinuses and subsequent congestion. Eventually, inflammation and congestion can even cause sinus infections.

In addition to living in an area with low humidity, certain health conditions, for example, dehydration or Sjorgen's Syndrome will cause your mucous membranes to dry out. If you're prone to sinus problems in the first place, dryness will only make things worse. Now that we've established how important it is to maintain a proper amount of moisture in your nose and sinuses, here are some tips for keeping your nose and sinuses moist and healthy.

Increase Your Fluid Intake

Hydration, to a significant degree, starts from the inside out. Drinking more fluids, specifically more water may help to thin out mucus. It may also be beneficial to limit alcohol or other diuretics. Generally speaking, most of us require more fluids during the summertime when the temperature rises, or when we engage in physical activity. While water is best it's not the only way to increase your fluid intake. If you are one of those people who just can't stomach a lot of plain water try adding a lemon to your water, drinking flavored water or an electrolyte beverage such as Gatorade or Powerade.

Use a Humidifier

Sleeping with a humidifier, ideally a cool mist humidifier (available at most drug stores), next to your bed can help to keep your mucous membranes moist. The cool air will also help to decrease any inflammation inside your nose or sinuses.

Most humidifiers require distilled water in order to keep bacteria from growing in the system, however, a more expensive option is a self-sterilizing humidifier. If you'd really like to go all out, it is also possible to have your HVAC company add a humidifier to your heating/cooling system. This is a more expensive option but may allow you to more easily control the humidity levels in your home all year long.

Use a Saline Nasal Spray

Saline nasal spray is sold over-the-counter at most any pharmacy or drug store and is a great way to keep your nasal passageways moist. You can use it multiple times per day, since it's not really a medication and there isn't any real danger of overdoing it.

Try a Neti Pot

A neti pot is a device that looks an awful lot like a small teapot. It is used for nasal/sinus irrigation. Nasal irrigation is thought to be useful in removing excess mucus or foreign matter and thinning nasal secretions. You can buy a neti pot (without a prescription) at your local pharmacy along with a commercial sinus rinse to use in it, or, you can make your own rinse using simple ingredients such as baking soda, iodine-free salt, and distilled water.

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Article Sources

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  1. Sjögren - Bone, Joint, and Muscle Disorders - MSD Manual Consumer Version. MSD Manual Consumer Version. Updated April 2018.

  2. Sjögren’s Syndrome Dry Eyes & Mouth. Arthritis.org.

  3. Rabago D, Zgierska A. Saline nasal irrigation for upper respiratory conditions. Am Fam Physician. 2009;80(10):1117-9.

Additional Reading

  • American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Saline Sinus Rinse Recipe.

  • ear, nose, & throat associates of corpus christi. Sinuses.

  • emedicinehealth. Sinus Infection.

  • Sjorgen's Syndrome Foundation. Top 5 Tips for Dry Nose and Sinuses.