Nose is one of the important parts of respiratory and olfactory system that is required to sense, smell and also humidify inspired air to prevent damage of internal delicate respiratory mucosa or receptors and to minimize the excessive drying of secretions; however, certain environmental factors and physical agents can damage mucous secreting glands of nose leading to dry nose. Dry nose is a frequently reported symptom that may lead to a number of complications if not managed properly. Some of the complications include dry skin, dry eyes, blurred vision, skin rashes and drowsiness.
Causes of Dry Nose
Following medical conditions are closely associated with symptomatic dry nose.
1. Side Effects of Certain Medications
Overuse of certain medications that are consumed to decrease the secretions of nose (in situations of flu and allergies) may lead to dry nose by causing excessive decongestion. Medications that are most strongly associated are antihistamines, antibiotics and nasal sprays. Abuse of certain illicit drugs by inhalation can also lead to dry nose.
2. Environmental Conditions
Environmental conditions can also influence the humidification of nasal passageways and secretions of mucus from glands.
Cold air as a result of air conditioning or extremely dry air as a result of desert like climate deprives nasal mucosa of its natural moisture.
Indoor heating is yet another common cause of dry nose due to evaporation of nasal secretions. Excessive drying of nasal mucosa is as hazardous for the functioning of nose and systems as complications like dry mouth may also occur.
Dry Sauna treatments (without steam) are usually employed by people who are looking for quick weight loss. However, prolong dry sauna treatments deprives your body of all essential nasal moisture (due to inhalation of heated air at a temperature of over 112 degree F.
3. Sjogren's Syndrome
Sjogren's syndrome is one of the well- established autoimmune conditions that affect all the mucus secreting glands of the body as a result of autoimmune damage. It presents with other symptoms like dryness in the eyes with sandpaper like appearance (also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca), dryness of mouth (also known as xerostomia) and dryness of nose.
Treatment or management of Sjogren's symptoms is largely dependent on identification of inciting cause. Artificial solutions can be used to minimize the symptoms and decrease complications. Certain drugs can be used to increase the secretion in the nasal cavity, eyes and oral cavity by parasympathetic stimulation via pilocarpine. In addition, systemic symptoms can be managed by anti-malarial agent Hydroxychloroquine. In refractory cases, surgical options can be employed like punctal occlusion that deals largely with occlusion or obstruction of special ducts in the eyes that are responsible for the reabsorption of tears.
4. Respiratory System Infections
Certain life threatening infections of respiratory tract can also affect the secretions of nasal mucosa leading to dry nose. In all such cases, urgent and emergent management must be instituted to minimize life threatening complications.
Remedies for Dry Nose
Besides impending complications, dry nose itself is a painful condition that leads to cracking, soreness and bleeding of nose. In most cases, individuals have no option but to breathe by mouth that further aggravates the symptoms leading to dryness of oral cavity, throat and associated structures; thereby increasing the risk of soreness and infection.
Following home remedies are generally helpful in improving mucus secretion and maintenance in the nasal cavity.
1. Increase Water Intake
Large part of nasal and all other secretions of the body are derived largely from water. Increasing the water intake helps significantly in increasing the hydration of the tissues that in turn improves the secretion of mucus. Besides plain water (at least 64 oz) it is also recommended to consume fresh fruits and vegetables that also release water in the body.
2. Cut Back or Stop the Medication
If the primary cause of dry nose is medications (like anti-histamines), decreasing the frequency or stopping the drug altogether helps in return of normal nasal secretions. However, don't start or stop any medication before consulting your healthcare provider. You can also ask for alternative options.
3. Use Nasal Spray
Nasal sprays that contain normal saline helps in resuming normal moisture of the nasal cavity that decreases soreness, dryness and cracking. Make sure to use only saline sprays and not just the aqueous sprays that are less capable of providing protection and moisture to internal nasal mucosa.
4. Use a Humidifier
When the cause of dry nose is environmental or physical agents, use of humidifier is a life- saver. Humidifier converts dry air to moist air that softens nasal cracks and provides a soothing effect. In addition, humidifier also absorbs impurities or irritants from the air to prevent any inflammatory reaction and to minimize the risk of infection.
5. Use Cream or Petroleum Jelly
Environmental agents like dry air, heating or dry sauna treatments for weight loss exert their action by evaporating moisture from the body. In case of any such condition, it is recommended to cover your internal nasal mucosa with cream or petroleum jelly to prevent the insensible loss of moisture or hydration.
6. Reduce Alcohol, Caffeine and Salt Intake
Any agent (physical, biological or dietary) that has dehydrating properties should be avoided if you have dry nose or you are at risk of developing dry nose. Salt, alcohol and caffeinated beverages somehow affects the hydration of tissues by either decreasing ADH release from the brain (alcohol) or by increasing the excretion of water (caffeine and salt) leading to increased risk of dry nose.
7. Take More Exercises
Normal daily physical activity improves the functioning of glands in the body by increasing the sympathetic stimulation to glands that helps in increasing moisture and hydration element. Make sure to avoid excessive working out in dry weather and after work-out replace your lost fluids.