Physical Symptoms

How Anxiety Affects Your Nose

Micah Abraham, BSc

Written by

Micah Abraham, BSc

Last updated November 25th, 2020

How Anxiety Affects Your Nose

Anxiety affects far more than just your mind. It's a very physical experience as well, and one that can have a host of unusual physical symptoms that often make it very difficult to go about your day to day life. Anyone that experiences anxiety knows how often their anxiety causes strange and distressing symptoms in one area of their body or another.

But what you may not know even if you have anxiety is that anxiety can affect your nose. While it's not the most common source of symptoms, your nose is yet another area of your body that anxiety can affect.

Anxiety and Nasal Symptoms

Anxiety is a condition that affects your hormones, your neurotransmitters, and your immune system. Every part of your body is affected, which is why it's not much of a surprise that anxiety can affect your nose as well. 

Nasal symptoms are tough, because there isn't any surefire way to know whether or not they're caused by anxiety or caused by a cold or allergies. But there are several ways that anxiety affects the nose, and these may play a role in your nasal comfort. The most common ways include:

  • Runny Nose Anxiety may create a runny nose. The cause is unclear, but anxiety affects the immune system so it's possible that your allergies may be worse when you have anxiety. Anxiety may even put you at greater risk for a cold.
  • Tingling Nose While not tremendously common, anxiety can also cause facial tingling. This often due to hyperventilation, which is a common symptom in people with panic attacks. A tingling nose may be a sign that you're breathing too poorly, and indicate that you need to take control of your breathing in order to stop your anxiety.
  • Nosebleeds Nosebleeds may also be caused by anxiety. In some cases anxiety can cause temporary spikes in blood pressure, and those spikes may damage blood vessels and lead to bleeding. Those with severe anxiety or stress may get nosebleeds often. Unfortunately, these nosebleeds can actually cause more stress leading to a vicious cycle.

This list isn't comprehensive either. Some people report that the inside of their nose itches when they have anxiety. Others claim that they experience nose pain, or a stuffy nose as a result of anxiety. Anxiety changes the way your body works, and one of the results is that strange physical symptoms become more common.

Anxiety and Nasal Tics

Anxiety doesn't just cause physical symptoms either. In some cases it can cause behaviors that lead to their own nose problems. For example, there are some people that develop a tic with anxiety where they need to rub their nose hard or squeeze it as a response to stress. This can actually cause nasal pain because the rubbing is too hard for the nose to handle.

There are others that are constantly touching their face when they're stressed, and this may also lead to problems as well. For example, acne around the nose may be more common in those with anxiety since they spend more time with their hands on their nose - an area that already is fairy ripe with bacteria. Clearly, the nose is affected by anxiety in more ways than initially thought.

How to Stop Nasal Anxiety Symptoms

When anxiety affects your nose, there are two steps to treatment. Remember, there is almost no way to confirm whether or not your nasal issues are the result of anxiety or the result of allergies, a cold, etc. Until you cure your anxiety, you should treat them like you would any other health condition, and talk to your doctor to get tips on what to for your specific nasal problems.

You can also start controlling your anxiety. Here are a few ways that may have added benefits on your nasal health.

  • Take a Long Shower/Bath Many people find that long showers are incredibly relaxing, especially at a hot (but not too hot) -. So consider a very long shower or bath when you're feeling stressed to calm your muscles and possibly clear out your sinuses.
  • Breathe Better When you're hyperventilating and you experience a tingly nose, you should respond by breathing slower and more controlled. Take about 5 seconds to breathe in (through your nose) and 9 seconds to breathe out in order to prevent further hyperventilation.
  • Jog Jogging can actually temporarily increase nasal symptoms (since it warms the body and may lead to the creation of mucus) but it appears to be able to stop anxiety symptoms in the long run. Jogging releases endorphins which calm the mood and stimulate a healthy immune system - important for your nasal symptoms.

These are a few quick fixes. Unfortunately, they will not solve the whole problem because as long as your anxiety still affects your body, your nasal symptoms will be the result.

Questions? Comments?

Do you have a specific question that this article didn’t answered? Send us a message and we’ll answer it for you!

Ask Doctor a Question

Question:

Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods?

– Anonymous patient

Answer:

You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

Ask Doctor a Question

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