We know that winter in Oklahoma can be unpredictable – one day the temperatures are frigid, and the next the weather feels downright balmy. All of this yo-yoing can wreak havoc on your sinuses, especially since it extends the growing season – thus allowing pollen to continue to circulate in the air. Here are a few steps you can take to reduce your symptoms this winter.
- Dry Air
Winter typically brings a dramatic drop from the humidity of the summer months. Running your heater only intensifies this dryness, which can lead to sinus pain and pressure. This is because it causes the mucous membranes lining your nasal passages to dry out and the mucus to thicken, leaving you feeling stuffed up or clogged. To alleviate your discomfort, you should get a humidifier. Start by putting one in the bedroom; if your sinuses continue to bother you, you may need to put humidifiers in other rooms too, or even get one for your office.
If you suffer from allergies, you know they can exacerbate sinus problems. For indoor allergens, like mold, dust mites, and pet dander, try installing an air purifier or adding a HEPA filter to your home’s HVAC system. You should also make sure your vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter, and clean or change it regularly. Washing your clothes and bedding more often can help too, and so can giving your pet more frequent baths. If you don’t have time to thoroughly cleanse your whole house of allergens during the busy holiday season, focus on your bedroom first; if you sleep better, you will feel better during the day.
Spending more time inside during the winter also exposes you to a variety of potential sinus irritants. These include smoke, certain cleaning products, aerosol sprays, and artificial fragrances (candles, perfumes, and the like). Even the piney scent of a Christmas tree can trigger symptoms for some people. It’s important to remember that not all of these scents will cause a reaction for everyone. The key is to figure out which ones make your sinuses feel worse, and then do your best to avoid them. If you are exposed to an irritant, flush your nasal passages with a saline solution to wash it away.
Keep in mind that external factors are only part of the equation when it comes to winter sinus problems. If you have a medical condition, like narrow sinuses, polyps, or a deviated septum, winter conditions can intensify your symptoms. If your sinus problems persist, you may need to see a doctor. Our specialists at Oklahoma Otolaryngology Associates are here to help you; just call to set up an appointment.