Allergy, Immune | December 5, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
Noses -They come in all sorts of sizes but all resemble a similar shape and as much as we see them as a feature on our face that can help distinguish who we are, they also play an important role in keeping us healthy.
Noses can get sneezy, runny, blocked, itchy, produce hideous noises or copious amounts of mucous. They can tell us a story about what is going on with our health. Firstly, lets talk about our nose as a structure, without getting to complicated.
The Nose can be divided into 2 sections, internal and external.
The external nose is the support framework made of hyaline cartilage and bone, lined with mucous membrane and covered by skin and muscle. Hyaline cartilage, which is pliable cartilage, means the external nose is flexible. Beneath the tip of the nose are two openings called the external nares, we know them as nostrils, divided by septal cartilage. The two nostrils give access to the internal nose.
The internal nose is a large cavity lined with mucous membranes and can communicate with the pharynx through two openings. The pharynx is a mucous lined cavity connecting the nose and mouth to the oesophagus (food pipe). Ducts from cavities in certain facial and cranial bones (sinuses) also open into the interior nose. Some of these produce mucous and are resonating chambers for sound and speech. The hard palate of the mouth forms the floor of the internal nose. A nasal septum divides the nasal cavity into left and right sides, indicated by the nostrils at the opening.
Mucous is that annoying globule of a sticky substances that we notice coming from our nose at various times, or being coughed up from our lungs. It is very important. It traps microbes such as bacteria and dust from entering further into the body. It contains antibodies that can destroy pathogens and helps maintain a sterile internal environment. It also stops internal surfaces from drying out and cracking. This can help prevent infection and inflammation. Our body continuously produces mucous, just more at certain times and in certain conditions.
Mucous membranes line not only the nasal passages but also the throat and gastrointestinal surfaces.
Nose hairs, which we seem to find unsightly and like to keep trimmed and hidden, play an important role by filtering out microbes and dust from our nose. Long hairs, called cilia, propel mucous along trapping the debris for removal.
The interior structure of the nose has 3 functions:
1. Warming, filtering and moistening the incoming air we breath
2. Detecting olfactory stimuli – smelling
3. Modifying speech as it passes through the large, hollow resonating chambers. These chambers prolong, amplify and modify sound by vibration.
Sneezing, congestion, nasal drip and excess mucous production can be signs of your nose doing its job producing mucous to remove invaders and protect the body.
Infection, allergen or irritants increase mucous production to help flush away, and clear passages.
Acute sinus infection can cause the sinus cavities to become inflamed and swollen, reducing the ability to drain mucous. Often the areas around the eyes and cheeks will feel tender and throb.
Chronic sinusitis has the same symptoms as acute but occurs for a longer period of time and is resistant to treatment. Infection, growths in the sinuses such as polyps or a deviated nasal septum may be the cause.
Viruses can damage the mucous lining of the respiratory track along with the cilia that help to keep mucous moving along. This is when you notice a dripping nose, nose blowing and sneezing. A post-nasal drip can continue happening when mucous isn’t clearing away quickly. This could be because cilia have become fatigued from repetitive coughing and is often noticed after acute stages of infection or allergy have past.
Decongestant medication and dehydration may also cause a reduction in the movement of mucous. A good reason to increase water intake when suffering from colds and allergies, and don’t over-use symptom medication.
Sensitivities to smell such as cigarette smoke or car fumes can also cause the nose to become inflamed and block.
Food sensitivities maybe harder to identify. If you notice your nose feeling congested after eating certain foods – it could be a food sensitivity to a constituent in the food, such as amines, histamine or salicylates. These can be hard to identify as they have an accumulative effect often before symptoms are noticed. A diet diary may help. For more information
A deviated septum is when the walls of the nasal septum are displaced, causing the nasal passages to become smaller, reducing airflow and making it harder to breath. This may affect one or both nostrils. Some people may not notice they have a deviated septum unless they have allergies or a cold when the nasal passages swell and narrow, breathing may become difficult. Nose bleeds may be more frequent due to surface drying. Noisy sleep and risk of infection can be increased. When deviations affect breathing, it needs to be repaired surgically.
You may notice when swimming in sea water your nasal blockages ease. This is possible due to the irrigation effect of salt water through the nose. Saline (salt water) increase the ability of cilia to move more quickly. Saline solutions for home irrigation and hydration are a great way of helping with mucous clearing.
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Allergens, irritants and viruses can be hard to avoid. Some natural therapies that help the body cope include:
Elderberry – Anticatarrhal and anti-inflammatory, elderberry, also known as Sambucus nigra, is accepted as a treatment of colds symptoms.
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Eyebright – Anti-catarrhal, astringent, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. Too much mucous, this is the herb for you. Also helpful for sinusitis and ear congestion.
Andrographis – immunostimulant and anti-inflammatory, this herb has been found beneficial for acute and chronic infections.
Echinacea – Often the first choice for any immune system concerns, echinacea helps to modulate the immune system, is anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, helps with fevers, wound healing and vasodilating. Choose echinacea augustifolia, echinacea purpurea or echinacea pallida roots.
Albizzia – Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy.
Zinc – is an essential micronutrient needed for a healthy immune system.
Vitamin C – supports immune system for sustained immune responses and is antioxidant against oxidative changes.
Quercetin – is a polyphenol derived from plants with a number of actions including anti-inflammatory, antiviral, immune enhancing and supports capillary permeability (nose bleeds).
Tea tree or eucalyptus inhalations to help clear bacterial or fungal infections.
Tortora, Gerald J and Derrickson, Bryan 2006 Principles of Anatomy and Physiology 11th edition, John Wiley and sons, Inc, USA
Saline Nasal Irrigation for Upper Respiratory Conditions https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2778074/
Zinc in Infection and Inflammation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5490603/
Vitamin C and Immune Function https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707683/
Quercetin, Inflammation and Immunity https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4808895/
Evaluation of the anti-inflammatory activity of the aqueous and ethanolic extracts of the leaves of Albizzia lebbeck in rats https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4833457/
Fisher, Carole; 2009, MATERIA MEDICA OF WESTERN HERBS, Vitex Medica, New Zealand