Exams are about to start, make bed and watch The Bachelorette at the same time. It’s a typical winter morning.
You don’t have to get out of bed to feel fresh.
Science has found that the nasal passage becomes inflamed during the winter months and causes you to feel as if you’re reaching for the Soothing Cow Cheese Patch. Your skin, nose and eyes can become irritated and dry.
You may also become obsessed with the Middle East’s most famous beauty product.
The nasal cavity begins to show signs of irritation from mid-winter. There are three main things to look out for:
The increase in air pressure inside the body increases the amount of nasal gases, including dirt, pollen and other irritants.
Clogging up the nasal cavity
Although you may hate the feeling of it, fatty, fatty substances are expelled from the air sacs of the nose via the olfactory bulb, the brainstem region in the middle of the back of the skull where smell happens.
If the tissue around the olfactory bulb is not enough to flush these oils out, these residues cannot be extracted and the problem continues. They remain in the nose and if swallowed, can cause intestinal obstruction.
Additionally, if the skin around the nasal cavity becomes dehydrated, it doesn’t produce enough mucus and allergens and toxins pass into the nasal cavity instead.
“The human nervous system is directly involved with the passageways of the mucus gland and respiratory tract. There is a link between the flow of the mucus and the flow of the nerves,” says Steven Chase, an international lecturer at the University of Bath.
In fact, one of the triggers for hay fever is that the brain releases an allergen such as pollen.
The mucus’s innate ability to seal itself away from allergens is why it “isn’t like the slime in a vacuum cleaner”, adds Chase.
What can you do about it?
If you are suffering from nasal congestion, try to keep your nasal passages open. You can remove nasal mucus from the nose, but this can damage the nerves.
But if you’re not doing anything else to sort your condition out, the easiest and most effective option may be a nasal decongestant nasal spray. Most over-the-counter sprays contain albuterol, an anticholinergic which helps to reduce congestion. The best sprays last around an hour, so the process can be done while you wait for the soapy drink to get back into the jug.
But, there’s a catch. Even if you use a decongestant nasal spray, keep an eye on symptoms. You may need to change the one you’re using if it’s causing irritation.
“Take it with caution as under-use of drugs can lead to asphyxiation,” says Chase.
Another option is to use breathing exercises. Focusing on an inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth helps to reduce the irritation in the nasal passage and also reduces nasal mucus.
Some people have tried to remedy the symptoms by banning open-mouthed staring, exfoliating, removing nasal mucus from your clothes or covering your nose with a scarf. There may be a temporary reduction in the symptoms, but long-term sufferers will see only a short-term benefit.
“The most obvious solution would be to get rid of the decongestant spray and try to return to more natural remedies,” says Chase.
Written by Sam Thomas for BBC Health