Several news stories have recently taken up an age-old question: is there a right way to blow your nose? Hot on the heels of one study suggesting that one nostril at a time is the only way to go, comes a new study which suggests that too much pressure can be hazardous to your health:
Sometimes, the pressure generated can be so intense that the accumulated mucus may even propel into the sinus spaces and drainage passageways. This can cause sinus infections, making your condition worse. An earlier study by Gwaltney JM J revealed that a single nose blow can propel nearly 1 ml of viscous mucus or fluid into the intranasal sinuses. Further, blowing also forces air into the sinus spaces, giving rise to mucus bubbles that increase intranasal pressure. This can cause headache and inflammation of the sinuses or sinusitis.
To be clear: this is all entirely plausible, and there is no question that excessive pressure in the form of blowing out or “snorting in” can force mucus into spaces it might not normally travel. But it is also true that nose-blowing can help move things along if done gently, especially if the mucus is already loose. One way you can help the process and avoid controversy: simply clear your nose in the shower, where heat and steam often loosen up the works.