simple breathing exercise (how to clear a
stuffy nose or get rid of nasal congestion) was developed by Russian doctors practicing the
Buteyko breathing method. Around 200 physicians taught this exercise to their patients with blocked noses.
Over 85% of people can make their stuffy nose clear in less than 1 minute if their follow instructions
correctly. This remedy was tested on more than 100,000 people.
Why stuffy nose problem is so common?
Numerous medical studies have shown that modern people or "normal subjects"
breathe about 2 times more air than what is considered the norm. Hence,
overbreathing and a lack of CO2 constricts blood vessels
and airways. In addition, hypocapnia (CO2 deficiency) creates tissue
hypoxia (low body-oxygen content) and suppresses the immune system. As
a result, your sinuses become the breeding ground for bacteria,
viruses, fungi and other pathogens. It has been shown in Buteyko's
research that the reason that one's nose gets blocked or stuffy is due to a
CO2 deficiency that in turn is caused by breathing too much.
Instructions: how to unclog a stuffy nose
Sit down and after your usual exhalation, pinch your nose to hold
your breath, while nodding your head up and down. Hold your breath as
long as possible but remember to breathe only through your nose when
you later release your nose. When you get a strong desire to breathe,
release the nose and take a small gentle inhalation and then relax your
body muscles to exhale.
Then again, take a small inhale and relax for
the exhale. Your goal is to breathe less than before this breathing
exercise, but with total relaxation of all body muscles. Hence, you are
going to have air hunger or the desire to breathe more for about 1-2
In less than 1 or, maximum, 2 minutes you will notice that your stuffy nose gets clear.
Your next goal is to continue this reduced breathing, to keep the nose clear
all the time.
Most likely, the nose will get blocked later (e.g., during night sleep). If
so, you need to learn the technique that is called "mouth taping". Search this site for
the manual that is called "How to maintain nasal breathing 24/7" or see Resources below.
How to keep a stuffy nose clear and unblocked 24/7
How does it work? When you hold your breath and do some physical
movements (nodding your head or walking, but with the nose pinched), your
airways, lungs, blood-and-body cells, including the stuffy nose,
accumulate more carbon dioxide. CO2 is the most powerful known
vasodilator and dilator of all tubular layers of smooth muscles,
including those in the sinuses, bronchi and bronchioles. As a result, airways dilate
and this leads to quick relief of nasal congestion. Additional effects are due to dilation
of arteries and arterioles when arterial CO2 is increased. CO2-induced vasodilation improves blood-and-oxygen
supply to your stuffy nose (see CO2-related links for clinical studies).
Both of these mechanisms, vasodilation and dilation of airways, have
physiological similarities since the expansion mechanism is based on
relaxation of all smooth muscles of the human body due to the higher
CO2 content in the arterial blood.
Permanent solution to have a blocked nose clear
The solution to all these constriction problems is to increase your
body CO2-and-oxygen content 24/7 by reducing your breathing. There is a
simple body-oxygen test that provides the criterion for a clear nose. If
your score is higher than 20 seconds on this body-oxygen test, your nose will be
clear all the time. If your body oxygen level drops below 20 s (e.g., after
meals, due to mouth breathing, supine sleep, allergies, during night sleep,
etc.), you will start to mouth breathe (causing advance of pathogens,
constriction of airways, and other effects of the overbreathing) and will again
need to clear the stuffy nose of its extra mucus.
In order to achieve a good body-oxygen level, you have to change your
automatic breathing pattern. You need to make it slower and lighter (have easier
breathing, in contrast to the heavy breathing that you likely have now). This goal
can be achieved if you practice breathing exercises and follow a natural
lifestyle for higher body-oxygen content.
Bartley James, Nasal congestion and hyperventilation syndrome,
American Journal of Rhinology, 2005 Nov-Dec; vol 19(6): p. 607-11.
Waitemata District Health Board, Auckland, New Zealand.
BACKGROUND: This article evaluates the prevalence of
hyperventilation syndrome (HVS) in patients who continue to complain of
ongoing nasal congestion, despite an apparently adequate surgical
result and appropriate medical management.
METHODS: Prospective case series of 14 patients from June 2002 to
October 2003 was performed. Patients, who presented complaining of
nasal congestion after previous nasal surgery and who appeared to have
an adequate nasal airway with no evidence of nasal valve collapse, were
evaluated for HVS. When appropriate, nasal steroids and oral
antihistamines also had been tested without success. Three patients had
end-tidal P(CO2) levels measured and five patients underwent breathing
RESULTS: All patients had an elevated respiratory rate (>18
breaths/minute) with an upper thoracic breathing pattern.
Twelve of the 14 patients complaining of nasal obstruction had an
elevated Nijmegen score indicative of HVS. An average number of 2.5
procedures had been performed on each patient. End-tidal P(CO2) levels
were < or = 35 mmHg in the three patients who had expired P(CO2)
levels measured. Breathing retraining was successful in correcting the
nasal congestion in two of five patients.
CONCLUSION: HVS should be included in the differential diagnosis of
patients presenting with nasal congestion, particularly after failed
nasal surgery. One possible explanation is increased nasal resistance
secondary to low arterial P(CO2) levels. Another possible explanation
is reduced alae nasae muscle activity secondary to the reduced activity
of serotonin-containing raphe neurons. Additional surgery may
not necessarily be the answer in HVS patients complaining of nasal
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