Mouth breathing is more than just an unpleasant side effect of nasal congestion caused by allergies, it can also increase the risks of developing infections in the mouth, throat, and lungs. Your nose is your body’s air filtration system, removing contaminants from the air you breathe in while warming and humidifying the air.
When you’re forced to breathe through your mouth due to nasal congestion caused by allergies, this preparation process is bypassed and the cold, unfiltered air dries out your mouth, lungs and throat. Dry mouth can dull your sense of taste, increase your risk for gum and teeth infections, and cause bad breath.
When the lungs and throat dry out the mucus located there thickens, clogging your lungs delicate, cilia, hair-like cells responsible for sweeping debris from your lungs. This creates mucus buildup, which diminishes your lungs’ capacity for air, and can create chest congestion, as well. Here are some tips to temporarily relieve nasal congestion caused by allergies, helping you breathe freely and get back to using your built-in air filters:
1. Stay hydrated.
Good hydration improves overall health, but staying hydrated also helps keep your airways moist and thins any existing mucus. This helps your body’s filtration system continue to flush allergens from your system by preventing congestion in your sinuses. If you have congestion, drinking a mixture of one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar dissolved in one cup of water twice daily can help thin mucus faster while hydrating you. The acidity of apple cider vinegar breaks down the proteins in excess mucus brought on by allergies, which helps ease congestion.
2. Chew real mint gum.
Mouth breathing due to allergy-related nasal congestion can cause dry mouth, an uncomfortable condition where your saliva dries out, leaving the delicate skin of your mouth and gums unprotected. Chewing gum increases your saliva production, which helps relieve dry mouth and the mouth soreness that can accompany it. The natural menthol of real mint can help soothe irritation in your throat and sinuses and help you breathe a little easier. Look for mint gum that lists mint or mint oil among the ingredients.
3. Clean sinuses with a sterile saline solution.
Using a saline nasal spray can help keep sinuses moist and flush away allergens that have built-up, which will reduce inflammation and encourage mucus to drain. You can also use a neti pot and a sterile saline solution to rinse built-up allergens from your nasal passages. If you prepare your saline solution at home, be sure to use bottled or distilled water to ensure that harmful bacteria and other microbes don’t find their way into your sinuses.
4. Have a humidifier in your bedroom.
A humidifier helps keep your nasal passages moist, avoiding irritation and swelling of your sinuses. Moistening the air can also help relieve mouth and throat dryness if allergies have you too congested to breathe nasally.
5. Use breathing strips during exercise and at night.
Physical exertion can cause nasal passageways to narrow from negative pressure, making breathing with nasal congestion from allergies all the harder. Breathing strips that go on the outside of the nose below the hard bone of the bridge help hold these passages open, allowing increased airflow. Likewise, nasal passages can narrow during sleep, but breathing strips help keep them open allowing you to breathe more freely.
6. Sleeping with your head elevated.
Using a wedge pillow, or stacking several pillows to elevate your head as you sleep on your back can help mucus drain from your sinuses. Allowing excess mucus to drain from your sinuses can help relieve not only allergy-related congestion but sinus pressure as well.
7. Take a hot shower
Enjoying a hot shower does more than relieve aches and pains from tired muscles. Like using nasal saline sprays and the neti pot, breathing in the steam while you shower can help relieve sinus pressure and break up mucus brought on by allergies. Taking a hot shower when you first come home also helps rinse away allergens from outside that cling to your hair and skin, which keeps you from tracking them around your home.
These tips can help temporarily relieve the discomfort of nasal congestion that frequently accompanies allergies, but only allergy testing can identify the root of your allergies and help you treat the source of your allergies, not just the symptoms. The first step in finding the cause of your allergies is undergoing allergy testing.
If you’re ready to stop treating your symptoms and fight your allergies at their source, make an appointment with Dr. Pasha today!