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Having a Runny or Stuffy Nose While on Oxygen

Some people might get a runny nose or a stuffy nose while on supplemental oxygen. In my case, I have both. You'd think it would be one or the other.

When I go to eat, my nose automatically starts running like I turned on a faucet or something. It's almost funny to think about it now, but I remember when my mom and I would take my aunt out to eat for lunch. It never failed; each time, my aunt would start blowing her nose practically nonstop through lunch.

I remember the conversation that my mom and I would have after we dropped my aunt off. It was always the same. My mom would ask, "I wonder why she always blows her nose during lunch?" We would just shrug it off and then ask the same the next time we all went to lunch.

The connection between COPD, supplemental oxygen, and nasal issues

My aunt had COPD and wore oxygen as well, and I didn't connect it to that until it happened to me, and I realized that I do the same. There must be a connection.

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Noses run for all sorts of reasons. Spicy food, food allergies, and infections, to name a few.

When a person eats certain foods, a nerve called the trigeminal sensory nerve is stimulated, causing the nose to run. You can avoid this by staying away from certain foods. Gustatory rhinitis is the medical term for a runny nose while eating.

On the other hand I also get a stuffy nose from time to time. It mostly happens through the night, sleeping with my CPAP on.

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Managing oxygen-related nose dryness

I think the constant air blowing in that makes our noses dry. I am sure there are many other reasons for it as well. Just wearing oxygen itself a few hours a day can be enough to make us dry.

Many others wear oxygen 24 hours a day, so we will often experience dryness. From the beginning of my oxygen use, my doctor told me to use saline nasal spray several times a day.

I can sure tell the difference if I don't use it. I have even had some nose bleeds over the years from stuffy nose.

Water bubblers to prevent nasal dryness

Another helpful tip is to use a water bubbler on your home concentrator. This will help to produce moisture but you need to be careful not to get water in your oxygen hose. If you get that excess moisture in your nasal cannula it can cause an infection.

A good way to keep that water out of your nasal cannula is to put a water trap on your hose. This will trap any water so that it doesn't get into your cannula.

You have to use it correctly though. Be sure to only used distilled water as well and to talk to your oxygen company and they can explain the correct usage for you.

Hydration suggestions and moistening options

One other option is to use a moisturizing balm in your nose. I like to use Aire myself.

Some ointments you can't use with oxygen if it's petroleum-based. According to the oxygen concentrator store, you can also use sesame seed oil. It's naturally inflammatory and can also protect you from germs that might be in your nose, so you should be sure to talk to your doctor before trying any of these products.

Lastly, be sure to stay hydrated with water. This is important for so many things, not just for a stuffy nose.

Do you deal with either of these? Please share your tips in the comments below.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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