Whether you're prone to colds in the winter or allergies in the spring, runny noses are an unavoidable part of life. The easiest way to deal with snot seems pretty straightforward: Just hold a tissue to your nose and blow. But medical experts agree that there is a right way to blow your nose—and a wrong way.
According to The Guardian, clearing your nostrils too forcefully can lead to several problems. By applying excessive force to your sinuses, you could cause blood vessels to burst. Discomfort in your ears is another possible issue. The back of the nose is connected to the ears via a valve called the eustachian tube, and when you blow your nose too hard, you send air up that passageway. This results in a feeling of pressure in the ear canal, similar to what you may experience in an airplane cabin.
By yawning or swallowing, you can “pop” your ears and alleviate the pressure more quickly. In rare causes, the pressure can be enough to hurt your eardrum, which can potentially cause hearing and balance problems. But most people with properly functioning eustachian tubes don't need to worry about this, no matter how hard they blow their nose. Meningitis is another rare but possible complication from aggressive nose blowing, though it's usually connected to underling medical conditions.
Stuffed-up ears or a little blood in your tissue are the most common consequences of blowing your nose too hard. Both are relatively minor afflictions, but they can still be unpleasant. To prevent them, try being gentle the next time you clear your sinuses. Otolaryngologist Dr. Vincent Lin told Global News in 2018 that blowing your nose with less force is just as effective as applying as much pressure as possible. In some cases it's more effective, because blowing too hard pushes air to your ears instead of out your nose and into your tissue.
People with a deviated symptom may find it easier to clear one nostril at a time when their nose is running. If you've ever wondered why one side of your nose often feels stuffier than the other, you can find the answer here.
[h/t The Guardian]