6 nasal symptoms that demand attention


Owen Wiseman

21 July 2020

What are the different types of nasal allergy symptoms?

  1. Sinus congestion / sinus pressure. This symptom is one of the most commonly experienced in primary care clinics. It is also one of the most multifaceted due to the number of factors at play. The blood vessels supplying the nose can engorge which lends itself to swelling and an increase in mucus. The combination of these will result in difficulties bringing air through the nasal passages.
    · Humidifiers promote moisture in a congested nose and in a head-to-head trial, were superior to nasal steroids like fluticasone in reducing the frequency of nasal symptoms in patients on CPAP machines.
    · A simple diet intervention includes adding mustard and hot peppers to your diet if well tolerated. If you have ever eaten a meal heavy in these foods, you may quickly feel your eyes and nose start to water.
    · Another option to consider is Allergy Relief tabs or nasal spray. A clinical trial conducted in the Netherlands demonstrated that use of the product resulted in an 88.5% improvement in symptoms of allergies, especially in congestion.
  2. Sneezing and runny nose. Building off of the symptom above, we now understand that increased nasal secretions can be a burden. We have all most likely heard the sniffling co-worker in the neighbouring cubicle or office.
    · The runny nose represents a loss of body fluid, so drinking plenty of water is important to maintain hydration status. Without enough fluid, the mucous can become dry and sticky which predisposes you to congestion. If it is the case, Dry Nose Relief is also an option to consider.
  3. Post-nasal drip. Due to the connection between the mouth and nose known as the nasopharynx, it is possible that the mucus travels into the throat. It is among one of the most common causes of chronic cough, sore throat and a hoarse voice. It may create a sensation of needing to clear your throat.
    · Sleeping slightly elevated may prevent the mucous from gathering at the back of your throat. This sensation may lead to people waking from sleep to cough.
  4. Loss of taste and smell. Smell relies on the interaction of various scent molecules interacting with receptors in the nasal passages. With a stuffy or runny nose, it becomes difficult for this interaction to occur. If you find that clearing out your passages doesn't work, there are other causes to consider.
    A deficiency of zinc can actually cause a loss of scent or taste with papers from the Journal of the American Medical Association dating back to 1994. Though a deficiency is rare in countries like Canada, those of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe see about 40 to 50% of their population suffering from clinical deficiencies of the micronutrient. Your body doesn't produce zinc, so it must be obtained from diet or supplementation. Foods like oysters are rich sources of the nutrient, but beans and cashews can also provide a marginal amount. A novel cause of this loss is connected to infection by COVID-19 with reports of up to 90% experiencing changes to smell, though most recover within two weeks.
  5. Nasal polyps. These troublesome growths of tissue can similarly limit the amount of air flow traveling through the nasal passages. They are often soft and painless which can make them difficult to detect. According to the World Allergy Organization, they affect approximately 1-4% of the population. Further, in 7-20% of people, they can be associated with asthma.
    · There is a known connection to those with aspirin sensitivity as well. Polyps are worth a visit to your care provider to determine next steps. It may be worth discussing other pain relievers while there.
    · Vitamin D deficiencies are common in those with chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps. Researchers found that when treated, there was a significant decrease in the growth of a type of cell integral in polyp development. Meeting the recommended daily allowance set by Health Canada may help reduce your risk. The A.Vogel vitamin D tablets are a vegan option sourced from organic lichen that provide 1,000 IU in each tablet.
  6. Vertigo. Perhaps you read that and thought...how does this have anything to do with my nasal symptoms? There is a critical structure known as the Eustachian tube that connects the back of the throat to the middle ear. It helps to regulate pressure and prevent damage to the ear while also maintaining balance. When that tube gets blocked, loved ones or coworkers may comment on a change in your gait. You might begin to notice a sensation like standing on the deck of a ship as it cuts through a turbulent ocean. This symptom should send you to seek medical attention as neurological changes may account for the change and it's important that you rule out other conditions.

As mentioned, it can be helpful to speak with your primary care provider to determine what options are right for you. Consider reading 12 hay fever hacks you need to know about or 5 Tips to Fight Ragweed Allergies for more information on defending yourself this fall against this allergy producing plant.

This article does not provide medical advice and is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.