cure for the morning snots?
November 10, 2005 10:06 AM   Subscribe

Help me stop the morning snots. Invariably, every morning my sinuses go into overdrive about 5-10 minutes after I wake up. My nose gets completely congested and I'll have to honk wads of clear mucous into several tissues to clear it out.

If I don't blow it out, it will actually build up to the point that it will start to run out my nose.

Yeah, I know. Ick.

Most times after I blow it all out my sinuses will still be swollen and it will be hard to breathe for my nose for the next hour or so, after which it goes away.

Sometimes though, the blowing starts sneezing fits that may follow me through the whole day.

This has been going on for several years and I finally "woke up" to the fact that this may not be normal.

I used to think that I have a slight allergy to cats (had 2 up until a month ago, now down to one), but I've noticed that nothing changes when I go on vacation or am otherwise away from the cat.

How do I stop this? Am I a candidate for a turbinectomy ?
posted by de void to Health & Fitness (40 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Hmm. Do you eat much dairy? When I cut down my dairy intake, my snottiness was much reduced.
posted by coach_mcguirk at 10:12 AM on November 10, 2005

You could try using a neti pot; you basically douche your nasal passages and sinuses (sinii?) with a stream of warmish saline. It's a little tricky the first few times, but eventually you'll find the sweet spot and proper head angle to get it done right.

This technique has worked wonders for me on extra-snotty occasions, and I heard recently that it is being used more and more in western medicine. They even make some hi-tech electronic nasal douching machines, i've heard.

Nasal douching: not just for yogis anymore!
posted by sluggo at 10:13 AM on November 10, 2005

Response by poster: Not a big dairy eater, if anything it will be skim milk every other day and whatever cheese manages to find it's way into me when I eat out.

Neti Pot - never heard of it, I'll look into it.

I do use a saline nasal spray in the winter because the inside of my noise gets really dry when I'm in heated areas.
posted by de void at 10:18 AM on November 10, 2005

de void, I'm in the same boat and it drives me nuts. I eat dairy, but not enough to make a difference (I've checked it out). I've also made sure I'm not allergic to the down in my pillow or comforter. I guess it could be dust, but I don't notice a difference after a very thorough cleaning.

I'm watching this space and hoping for good solutions...
posted by widdershins at 10:24 AM on November 10, 2005

You might want to try a humidifier. We have rads in our house and I get totally dried out at night, which leads to snot in the morning.
posted by chococat at 10:26 AM on November 10, 2005

I second the neti pot. It's great for helping clear out the sinuses but also really nice during the winter months when my nose gets really dry. I like it much better than saline sprays.
posted by luneray at 10:26 AM on November 10, 2005

widdershins just reminded me - do check again about down in your pillow. After years, my husband just started having amazingly blocked sinuses (for months) and we finally established that he must have started reacting to my feather/down pillow. We threw it out and he was noticably better in a couple of days.
posted by gaspode at 10:30 AM on November 10, 2005

Response by poster: Been using a memory foam pillow for quite a while, but I'll change to a non-down/something else pillow and see if that does anything.
posted by de void at 10:33 AM on November 10, 2005

This used to happen to me too. And I used to think it was absolutely normal too, until the day I moved, and it never happened again. I figured I was allergic to something in-near-or-about my old apartment...
posted by yeoz at 10:38 AM on November 10, 2005

I'm the same boat as yeoz. Turned out I was allergic to the place I was living in for years.
posted by rxrfrx at 10:40 AM on November 10, 2005

You may have a mold allergy. The neti pot will help with that, but a humidifier most certainly would not (because mold thrives in moist). I suggest a HEPA filter, the biggest one you can get. Set it on the high setting all the time if you can bear to sleep with the noise. If the noise is too much for sleeping, keep it on high when you're not sleeping, and then low or medium to sleep. Expect to change the filter a little more often than the recommended for the first time or two, so keep an eye on what the filter is accumulating and find out what your filter should look like when it's time to change.

As someone with allergies so severe that they contribute to my frequent nosebleeds, I have become a bit of a pusher in regard to the neti pot/HEPA/ENT triad. Go get your nose checked out. This is impacting your quality of life, and since I am not a doctor I can't know what your problem stems from, but since you've decided it's a problem, you deserve a solution.

Good luck!
posted by bilabial at 10:51 AM on November 10, 2005

We have rads in our house

... which are?
posted by kindall at 10:55 AM on November 10, 2005

One note on the Neti pot -- which I, too, heartily endorse: if you can't already breathe fairly freely through both nostrils, you will eventually flood your sinuses up to your ears, which in my case was mildly painful and took several hours to drain. So it sounds like maybe neti should be the end of your regimen, not the beginning (unless you find it helps to beat the 5-10 minutes it takes the congestion to start after you wake up).
posted by xueexueg at 11:11 AM on November 10, 2005

Going on vacation anytime soon? Might be a good way to see if the snots are locational or inate. Or sleep in a different room /on the couch/something.

I also got a neti pot earlier this year and it's been a great occassional boon to my sinuses.
posted by phearlez at 11:14 AM on November 10, 2005

You neti pot users - what ratio of salt/water are you using? I'm still on the packets that came with mine but I see no reason to buy pre-measured SALT.

xueexueg makes a good observation. I use mine after a hot shower where I can blow out whatever chunkyness is hanging around.
posted by phearlez at 11:16 AM on November 10, 2005

I can help you with this! I had the morning snots forever until I went to my doc while my nose was "acting up." He said that my turbinates were severely swollen. He was also pretty surprised at all that snot.

He prescribed Singulair (monteleukast sodium). This drug is a leukotriene receptor antagonist. Leukotrienes are the fatty acids that cause the inflammatory response in asthma--and all that mucus production. They are, I believe, the primary cause of morning snots (please excuse me for using the medical term).

It's designed primarily for asthma, and has improved my quality of life tremendously.
posted by WyoWhy at 11:17 AM on November 10, 2005

Response by poster: As stated earlier, vacation seems to make no difference. Took a week cruise in October and still happened every day.

Ok, I lost counts of votes for the Neti Pot, so that will go on the shopping list.

I think "rads" meant radiators.
posted by de void at 11:18 AM on November 10, 2005

Response by poster: Ok, will see a doctor and see if I can time it with an onset of the the flood.

I'll keep Singulair in mind, although I'd hate to become another revenue stream to Big Pharma, hooked on a drug which eases symptoms but does nothing to cure the problem.
posted by de void at 11:20 AM on November 10, 2005

humidity could be the issue.

but if not, this also kinda sounds like an allergic reaction. first candidate would be your bedding... the down question is interesting. what about dust mites? reaction to cleaning chemicals? something in the fabric itself?

it could be anything though (other environmental stuff, your diet) since your body processes a lot during sleep.
posted by poweredbybeard at 11:26 AM on November 10, 2005

phearlez, you could probably measure the amount of salt that comes in the packets.

My neti pot holds about a cup of water and I use about 1/2 tsp of uniodized fine grained salt (like table salt). I think you'd need 1 tsp. of kosher salt.
posted by luneray at 11:29 AM on November 10, 2005

I have this problem too, so I'm also curious what advice people can give. I had turbinate reduction done a few months ago, hoping it would help with this. Answer: not so much, really. What I had done is sometimes called somnoplasty, and it basically involves cauterizing the turbinates to reduce their swelling. It worked as far as that goes; my nasal passages are generally clearer. But it didn't do anything at all to reduce the quantity of mucus, which is my main problem. So I still go to bed and wake up every morning with a stuffy nose.

I've been tested for allergies and the only ones that came up positive were dog, cat (neither of which I have), and dust. I'm probably going to try a HEPA filter at some point to see if that helps.
posted by MsMolly at 11:34 AM on November 10, 2005

MsMolly - what do they test for in those tests? Because there is all sorts of crazy crap in, like, everything. A friend of mine who had intense environmental allergies a while ago was pretty sure he was even reacting to the formaldahyde in many books.

So I'm just wondering what conventional allergy tests actually test for.
posted by poweredbybeard at 11:40 AM on November 10, 2005

Well add me to the list of people that have this same problem. The one thing that I can add is in regard to the sneezing fits. I finally realized that I got the sneezing when I would wear a shirt or especially a sweater that I hadn't worn in a long time (like 3-4 months or more). I'm assuming that this is an allergy to dust or something that accumulates on my clothes hanging in my closet. So now whatever top I'm wearing I give a good beating the way you see old women cleaning rugs in the movies, and that has helped enormously. I've had maybe 3 or 4 sneezing days since I started doing this two years ago, although the general congestion persists.
As for that, remember, Tylenol Allergy Sinus is your friend.
posted by Who_Am_I at 11:54 AM on November 10, 2005

poweredbybeard, it seems like they tested for pretty much everything. They draw a little grid of numbers on your back with (non-permanent) magic marker and then dip a pin of some sort into the different allergens and poke you with them. (They do one of pure histamine, I think, just to make sure you're reacting. Everyone gets the itchies from that one.) Then you have to sit there for a little bit while they wait to see if you itch or break out from any of the allergens. If you show a reaction to any of them they do a second test on your arm where they get more specific and also poke the pin a little deeper. It seems like they tested for various plants, animals, and foods. I'd imagine formaldahyde would probably be on the list.
posted by MsMolly at 12:14 PM on November 10, 2005

Phearlez, I'm currently using 1/4 tsp Kosher salt per 1-cup neti pot. I could go higher, but one day I didn't sufficiently dissolve the salt that was in there, and the gritty bottom-dredge proved to be another way that the Neti caused me (burning) pain as I haphazardly learned to use it. 1 tsp seems like a lot to me, but the saltiness is nice.

So netites, another tip learned the hard way: be sure your salt is fully dissolved.
posted by xueexueg at 12:34 PM on November 10, 2005

I found that a humidifier helped because when the furnace runs during the winter, the air in our house dries out considerably.
posted by KrustyKlingon at 12:35 PM on November 10, 2005

I think I am mildly allergic to cat litter. I don't have a problem with bedding or hair, but I get clogged when I go too long between cleaning the bed cover the cats walk on (with dusty paws) and I get clogged up in a way that takes a couple days to work out when I'm cleaning the boxes. I won't get rid of my cats to find out, but it could be your problem too -- still having one cat around means you still have the litter. I've found the neti pot helps, at least I don't get infections anymore, even if I am occasionally snotty. I use it in the shower when everything is loose and warm and I can be shameless about the contortions and drama required to get water up my nose.
posted by dness2 at 12:40 PM on November 10, 2005

I used to have really bad morning congestion. Fisherman's Friends helped.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:44 PM on November 10, 2005

Instead of buying a neti pot, I use a bulb syringe. Sold in drugstores for the purpose of suctioning the mucous from a congested baby's nose, I use it in reverse as an awesome salt-water-squirter.

I don't worry about measuring, I just dump a big pinch of kosher salt (perhaps a quarter tblsp?) into a cup and fill with warm water. If it's so salty that it stings the heck out of my nose, I dilute, if it doesn't taste salty enough, I add salt.

I do this every night, pretty much. My chronic sinus problems are greatly lessened and my colds go away much more quickly. I'm like a saltwater snorter-preacher now.
posted by desuetude at 1:01 PM on November 10, 2005

Physiological saline is 0.9% NaCl, so 9 g of salt in 1L (4 cups) of water. You want to be aiming for somewhere around there.

Of course I don't know how that translates to teaspoons.
posted by gaspode at 1:18 PM on November 10, 2005

We have rads in our house

... which are?

rads=radiators, heat from a boiler
posted by chococat at 1:23 PM on November 10, 2005

I have a similar problem, but mine is caused from my allergy to dust mites. The bedroom is one of their favorite places, especially in your matress and pillows. They're unavoidable.....

My allergy doctor gave me a few suggestions...I bought pillow and matress covers and an air purifier which has helped my morning nasal congestion considerably.
posted by Gooney at 1:59 PM on November 10, 2005

I used to get the same thing all the time. I'd dread waking up even the slightest bit, because it seemed like if I didn't go back to sleep right away, my sinuses would then "wake up" and within minutes my eyes would be watering and snot would be pouring out. I finally worked out that a nightly Zyrtec was the only thing that helpd. After several months of this, I finally went to an allergy specialist and had the test that was described above. (Except on my arm, not my back.) They determined that I had a small reaction to a few different grasses and a MEGA HUGE reaction to dustmites. Pillow, blankets, and mattress = dust mite city. I was advised to get special hypo-allergenic covers that fit over my mattress and pillows. (I haven't yet because they're expensive.) When I wash my sheets, I'm supposed to start it off with three kettles full of boiling water and then run the machine on hot. (A normal top loading machine doesn't get anywhere near hot enough to kill the mites.) You're also not supposed to dry your sheets on the line; grass and stuff can get embedded in them. A hot tumble dryer is better. The thing that's really helped is the specialist has started me on a regime of desensitisation shots, where they actually inject me with the dust mites every couple of weeks in increasing doses. Somehow, it works. My Zyrtec consumption has gone way down and with it, my incidence of morning sniffles. I still get them occasionally but at least now I know what's causing them.
posted by web-goddess at 2:00 PM on November 10, 2005

1/2 t. kosher salt per 8 oz of luke-warm water is what I have read recommended for nose washing.

I just got a neti pot yesterday (this kind, from Walgreens) and it's like the best thing that's ever happened to me.
posted by jennyb at 3:25 PM on November 10, 2005

I get the morning snot thing, too. Basically I do the gross, put a finger to one nostril, and blow it all into the sink or shower; repeat with the other side. Once I get most of it out, my nose dries up. Ugh.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:47 PM on November 10, 2005

Alternative to the neti pot: NeilMed's Sinus Rinse, which my ear, nose & throat doc gave me after my polypectomy. Very simple to use, and packets are supposedly available at most drugstores (I get mine from him).
posted by DakotaPaul at 7:45 PM on November 10, 2005

I've been doing 2 teaspoons salt per pint, but also adding 1 tsp baking soda. I dont know why the baking soda is in the recipe I use (not my recipe), but it seems to be a nice mix.
posted by sirion at 8:20 PM on November 10, 2005

I had similar problems that turned out to be allergies. I couldn't effectively breathe through my nose for 30 years or so, turns out it was allergies. On meds now, and I can breathe and I'm not always hawking up snot or clearing my throat from the constant post-nasal drip. It's been so nice.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:46 PM on November 10, 2005

I used to have terrible morning sinuses - snot and violent sneezing - which seemed to be triggered by the feeling of cool air on my skin, so if I ever woke early I would manically stuff bedclothes round me and try to doze sweatily, so as to delay a sniffley early morning. This happened several times a week.

Then one day in 2003, when being treated by a physiotherapist for a shoulder injury with acupuncture, I was given a needle in the thumb/index base spot when I mentioned I might be getting a cold. The therapist said it was supposed to be good for the immune system. Well, the cold did not arrive, but more importantly, those sinus symptoms never appeared again from that day onward. Once a month or so I have a minor version of them, and that's all. Very strange, and possibly circumstantial, but interesting.
posted by suleikacasilda at 5:26 PM on November 11, 2005

I've been trying a neti pot the last couple of mornings, thanks to all the recommendations on here. I really like it so far!
posted by MsMolly at 7:15 AM on November 14, 2005

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