Moisturizing sinuses - how exactly?
September 26, 2023 4:29 PM   Subscribe

My nose runs constantly from September to May and I don't know why I have tolerated it this long. It's embarrassing in work meetings and just, like, in general life. Someone in another question recently said they were moisturizing their nasal passages / sinuses but there was no explanation how.

I don't have allergies. I live in a very dry climate. I very decidedly did NOT grow up in a dry climate, and after moving here was being tested for allergies repeatedly, and told to just take allergy meds anyways for "non-allergenic rhinitis", and those didn't work. I eventually moved to a new doctor and she was like "oh yeah, it's because it's a dry climate" and... that tracks. I do not get nosebleeds, just the constant running.

- Humidifiers - I already have one in each room, and besides it doesn't help outside my home.
- Irrigation / neti pot - I already do this with Hydrasense daily. I've tried NeilMed too. This does nothing for the constant nose-running.
- A moisturizing solution that only goes into my nose. It isn't the problem, my sinuses are dry. I've tried some and they don't work.
- Moving. I wish.

- Anything I could spray. I understand I'd have to do it at least daily and know it might have to be more frequently during the day. Something that doesn't end up causing long-term dependency.
- Specific ingredients to look for! I see xylitol, is that legitimate or not, and would it work for this? Would anything work?
- I mean sure, please add non-spray ideas if you have them and if I don't already have them addressed. I'm not sure how else to tackle but at the source.

I see lots of sprays available online but they seem to just address a dry nose for people who use CPAPs and for other reasons, not dry sinuses.

Thank you!
posted by mireille to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
After bad experiences with a neti pot (I probably used it wrong) I've had good luck using something like "Little Noses Saline Spray" I learned about it when my kids were little. Its just saline and it helps alot when I have a sinus problems from allergies or a cold.

I recently used some of the Xyletol spray during travel because of it's supposed mild anti viral properties. I didn't really like the sweetness or sticky feeling of it, but it might work for you. My partner did read something saying that it isn't great to use long term though.

Also, a strange thing I noticed during the pandemic when I was visiting a much dryer climate was that masking really helped for sinus comfort. Something about keeping your moist exhalation near your face was enough to make a big difference.
posted by being_quiet at 5:13 PM on September 26, 2023 [2 favorites]

I've had very good results with using a cheap, generic saline nasal spray. It's not medicated, it's simple, it's not scary the way a neti pot is. But it does a very good job of cleaning things out and moistening them a little. Note that when I use (seasonally) I'll often do it multiple times a day.

My kids have also had good results with these, for seasonal allergies and to reduce nose bleeds in winter when the air is dry.

I don't think the spray itself goes all the way into your sinuses, but I expect if you keep your nasal passages moist throughout the day, the moisture would work its way up.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 5:43 PM on September 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

I see xylitol, is that legitimate or not

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol; I have no idea why it would be in a moisturizing solution for your nose, but it tastes sweet. As an aside, it is dangerous to dogs, and can kill them (there are other things like this -- fine for people, but lethal for dogs) so if you have a dog I'd avoid.
posted by aramaic at 6:11 PM on September 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

I had this issue until my doctor started me on Ipratropium. It’s an anticholinergic that seems to treat everything that my allergy meds don’t, such as nose running in the cold weather, after eating foods of different temperatures, after yawning, etc.
posted by Schielisque at 6:34 PM on September 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

How were you doing the neilmed? The key with the neilmed squeeze bottle is to go front to back, not side to side. Lean forward over the sink but tilt your head back slightly with your mouth open. Hold your opposite nostril closed. Snort a little as you squeeze the bottle to encourage the saline into your sinuses. Let the saline flow out of your mouth.

It goes super quick once you get used to it and does way better than anything else I’ve tried at cleaning out and moisturizing the sinuses. I supplement when I’m out and about with a super simple OTC saline spray that I spray and inhale right away to get it into the sinus.
posted by Francies at 6:36 PM on September 26, 2023 [2 favorites]

Wikipedia: "Xylitol is also found as an additive to saline solution for nasal irrigation and has been reported to be effective in improving symptoms of chronic sinusitis."
posted by soelo at 7:35 PM on September 26, 2023

I buy Arm and Hammer Saline Spray in bulk from Costco. My kiddo used to use Little Remedies and now uses Arm and Hammer as well.
posted by notjustthefish at 7:37 PM on September 26, 2023

I'd suggest trying a daily dose of Flonase/Fluticasone for an extended period. It has really seemed to control symptoms for me that seemed otherwise uncontrollable.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:50 PM on September 26, 2023 [3 favorites]

(I assume you’ve had allergy tests to conclude you don’t have allergies? It seems weird for docs to conclude that it’s not allergies based on it being a dry climate…I moved to AZ and my allergies are much worse here - there’s all kinds of pollens and dust and bug exoskeletons…). Anyway if willing to explore the allergy possibility I had to ramp up from the Zyrtec that was previously managing allergies and add fluticasone nose spray plus ketotifen eye drops. All good now
posted by Tandem Affinity at 9:56 PM on September 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Flonase - but specifically Flonase Sensimist. It's the one with the blue top (not the green one). It's a much finer mist and doesn't have a scent. I also found that it doesn't give me bloody noses like the original one did.

You might also want to look for saline *gel* moisturizer for your nose. Easiest way to apply it is with a q-tip. It makes a world of difference! The saline spray that everybody mentions definitely helps, but the gel, well, sticks around.
posted by dancinglamb at 11:05 PM on September 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

If you don't have allergies (and it sounds like you don't, since you've been well tested), don't take Flonase. It makes you likelier to catch colds, while not controlling your symptoms (because it only works for allergies).

Ipratroprium works on non-allergenic rhinitis, so might be an option.
posted by blueberry monster at 4:01 PM on September 27, 2023

Nthing steroidal nasal sprays. I have no allergies but I do have really sensitive, reactive airways. It was so bad until my 30s (when I first got Flonase) that in the dry time of year I couldn’t sit through a whole class bc my nose ran so much I would go through every tissue/handkerchief I owned.

Things that make me sneeze/nose run include:
-cold air
-dry air
-blowing air (fans are worse than wind)
-sudden temperature change
-sudden pressure change
-bare feet on cold floor
-eating till I’m full
-bright light
-particles (smoke, incense, even pollen in Florida quantities)

I use fluticasone and take a break every couple weeks bc it can give me nose bleeds, but the breaks make that not happen.
posted by toodleydoodley at 9:20 PM on September 27, 2023

Ipratroprium works on non-allergenic rhinitis

Ipratroprium is a bronchodilator and is used for COPD/asthma. It's also by prescription only (at least here in the US) and won't help a runny nose.

Flonase is an inhaled glucocorticoid that is used for sneezing, itchy eyes, runny noses, seasonal allergies or hay fever, and chronic rhinosinusitis (runny nose).

OP - You mentioned that you tried allergy meds, but did you try Sudafed?
posted by dancinglamb at 12:40 AM on September 28, 2023

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