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Safe skiing: How to look after your nose on the slopes!

Proper preparation for your adventures on the slopes is just as important for your fun as well as your safety.

Apart from the required physical fitness you’ll need, and all the right clothing and ski gear required, you’ll also need to prepare your head and neck areas.

The high altitude and dry air you’ll encounter and experience whilst on the slopes are known to cause nosebleeds.

But if you take the necessary steps to help you combat the effects of high altitude, things should go ahead without mishap. Here are some important pointers to bear in mind as you set off for the slopes.

What are the effects of high altitude on the ear, nose and throat?

Whether you’re on top of a mountain or inside an aeroplane, pressure can dramatically affect the middle ear space. Usually this is dealt with by “popping” the ears, but if you are travelling with a congested nose due to a cold or sinusitis, popping becomes difficult and can be rather painful. The solution is to take a regular, fast acting nasal decongestant spray (such as Otrivine or Vicks) along with regular, salty water nose rinses and steam inhalations.

What are the effects of dry air on the ear, nose and throat?

It is also evident that the atmosphere at altitude is very dry. This can cause the nose to become potentially flaky and painful. Again, rinsing and steaming applies along with the use of a gentle cream (such as Naseptin or E45) to resolve your symptoms quickly.

Unresolved dryness can be a major cause of nosebleeds. If this occurs, sit forward, pinch the lower, soft part of the nose and apply a dollop of snow (there should hopefully be enough of it around) to the base of the neck and / or forehead. This causes the blood to clot, slowing and stopping the flow. Wait for 15 minutes and then reassess. If your nosebleed does not improve after half an hour, seek medical help.

How to cope with a nasal trauma caused by a skiing accident?

In the event of nasal trauma, bleeding should be dealt with in the same way as mentioned above (sit forward, pinch the nose, apply snow etc.) and medical help sought ASAP.

Treatment of a potential fracture should involve keeping the head up, regular analgesics and repositioning of the fracture within 14 days. If the nose is severely fractured, causing ongoing pain or unwanted bumps, undergoing a rhinoplasty could be a potential option.

UV skin protection

Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the forgotten areas: nose, lips and back of the neck. Your ears should, hopefully, be tucked safely inside a helmet and the remainder of your body concealed with appropriate ski gear.

Happy skiing!

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