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The effects of very hot days on your sinuses

During summer and on those very hot days it is marvellous to go to the beach, relax at the pool side, have a barbeque or even picnic out with friends and family but then you may notice that your nose starts to run, you suddenly develop a headache or you feel stuffy.

Why does this happen?

Sinuses, which are paired air spaces connected to your nose, is lined with very delicate skin called the mucus membrane. The mucus membrane may then become inflamed by many things like bacteria, colds and flu’s, allergies or even a fungus invasion.  We start to feel all those dreadful symptoms when these sinus spaces are blocked, causing mucus build up and pressure.

The most common culprit of summer sinus problems is allergies and hay fever. We don’t hear enough about how pet hair, pollen, dander, dust and dust mites and even milk or how certain food allergies cause sinus problems. But what else about those hot days cause our sinuses to go ballistic?

One often hears about sudden extreme temperature changes causing increased sinus pain and a stuffy or runny nose, but how?

There are millions of tiny hair like structures called cilia that make up the mucus membrane, which lines your nose and sinuses. These cilia work together as a broom, helping to get rid of stagnant mucus that may block the sinuses. Your mucus membranes prefer a moist warm environment as opposed to it being very cold or very hot.

On hot summer days the air is very dry causing the mucus in your nose to become thick and sticky. This makes it difficult for the cilia to move or “sweep” the excess mucus out. This thick mucus then blocks the sinuses. When mucus flow is interrupted or blocked, it often becomes hard in nature and causes pressure and congestion. The pressure and the congestion then cause you to experience pain, stuffiness and headaches.

Did You Know?

Sometimes a headache may not be a sinus headache at all but rather a migraine headache. New studies have shown that very hot and humid weather one day can increase the possibility of a migraine headache on the next.

So what can you do to prevent or lessen these sinus problems so that you can enjoy the things that you love?

Allergy avoidance is one way of staying clear of allergies. Avoid mowing the lawn, going outside when pollen counts are high or eating things that you are allergic to. If you can’t avoid going outside when pollen counts are high, rub a little bit of Vaseline around your nostrils to help catch some of the tiny pollens that may enter your nose.

Ginger tea is a great drink to have on hot days. To make, just crush a small piece of peeled root ginger, add it to a cup of boiling water, allow it to stand for 2-3 minutes, strain the mixture into another cup and add honey. You can also carry it in a flask so that you can have it on picnics or at the pool. Ginger contains Vit B6, Vit C, Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium, Linoleic acid and a high volume of antioxidants. This means that ginger can help with bone formation, nerve transmission, muscle contraction and has anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Avoid drinking too many icy drinks, as they may worsen your sinus problems.

  • Using a neti pot to drain stuck trapped mucus will help to clear and moisten your sinuses. You may want to use a solution of warm water and table salt.

  • If you need to exercise, do it outside when possible as it will help you to cool off and gain fresh air as you exercise. (Look out for high pollen days)

  • Try using a humidifier at night when sleeping to keep hot, dry air moist.  Also remember to close the windows if you have the humidifier on.

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