A recent column in The New York Times Magazine highlights the importance of clear nasal breathing. The author, Mark O’Connell, describes his nasal obstruction as a sense of “gradual asphyxiation”, and the negative impact it has on his ability to think clearly and write productively. “A blocked nose deadens the mind.” He enthusiastically describes the relief he gets from using a nasal decongestant spray(Vicks) to unblock his nose and sinuses.
Nasal obstruction is associated with numerous quality of life issues. The sense of smell and taste are impaired, limiting the pleasure of eating. Nasal obstruction affects exercise endurance by reducing maximal airflow. Nasal obstruction contributes to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, and is often associated with a dry mouth and early morning throat discomfort.
Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated that chronic nasal obstruction negatively affects daytime energy levels. Correction of nasal obstruction leads to reduced lethargy and an improved sense of well-being.
Treatment of nasal congestion depends on whether the symptoms are temporary or chronic. Treatment of acute nasal congestion includes decongestants, nasal sprays, and antibiotics if sinusitis is diagnosed.
While the use of nasal decongestant sprays, such as Afrin or Vicks, is very effective in the short term, regular use of the sprays leads to INCREASED congestion and the spiral of nasal spray addiction.
Chronic nasal obstruction usually is caused by a structural abnormality, such as a deviated nasal septum or nasal polyps. In these cases, surgery may be necessary for long-term relief.
Breathing clearly through the nose is a ‘gift’ that contributes to well-being and greater productivity.