Having a stuffy nose can significantly impair one’s ability to exercise. The nose humidifies the air we breathe which prevents our throat and airway from becoming dry and irritated. If your nose is stuffed, then we breathe through our mouth instead. This can be particularly bothersome in the winter when the air is dry, causing a reduced ability to perform activities for some patients with nasal congestion. Even walking outside can become uncomfortable for these patients.
Many patients after having their nasal congestion treated are able to suddenly run farther, swim longer, and exercise more efficiently due to their ability to breathe more effectively and humidify the air they breathe. There are many causes of nasal congestion as listed above, but some initial treatments that may be effective to help with nasal congestion that affects exercise include:
- Saline and steroid nasal sprays
- Nasal strip application prior to exercise
- Keeping hydrated
If you find that you have persistent symptoms, then see your doctor about what may be causing your nasal congestion and their treatment options.
Some patients notice that their nose may run when they exercise as well, a condition referred to as exercise-induced rhinitis. Your doctor may prescribe a specific nasal spray to help reduce the runniness. Many patients note that they can exercise more effectively once again with proper treatment.
Nasal stuffiness is a common symptom which can impair many aspects of daily life including sleeping, working, and exercising. If you find that over-the-counter remedies, such as nasal sprays, don’t seem to help your nasal stuffiness, then see your doctor for further treatment options.