I just sneezed

by Gilbert Keith

and it was the most amazing thing that has happened in the last 24 hours. It’s awful to be in a vicious cycle of shallow breathing, temporary relief afforded by yawning to increase oxygen intake, soon relapsing into a state of shallow breathing, etc.

I hadn’t bothered to read about nasal congestion before, so I learnt about it today. During my investigation I came across the fact that congestion is caused by inflammation of membranes which produce mucus. The other thing I learnt was that decongestants work by constricting vessels which supply blood to the brain, thereby helping reduce inflammation.

Matt had recommended I take a Sudafed, which I did. In addition, I drank a cup of coffee, in the hope that it would enhance the vasoconstriction. It probably wasn’t a good idea since I might just have consumed an unnecessarily high dose of stimulants, but we’ll see.

One of the things I thought about was the fact that if decongestants are helping reduce supply of blood through the passages, then perhaps exercise might accomplish the same thing. Exercise would divert blood from wherever to the muscles being utilized, so it should have a similar effect, right?

I googled to learn more about it. One of the first hits was from the Mayo Clinic’s website which suggests that exercise may be somewhat beneficial in temporarily relieving congestion. WebMD suggests I should drink lots of water, which I will get on.

The funniest thing I came across, though was this article on ScienceBlogs:

So I’m sure you’ve all been congested as some point. Usually we reach for the Sudafed (if we can get some, in the States it’s like pulling teeth), or the Dayquil, or perhaps just put our heads over a cup of steaming tea. But how many of us think “man, if only I could get off right now…”

Though probably when you are really congested, getting off is not really something that’s much on your mind. And if it is, my but you have a very odd fetish. Congestion (inflammation of the blood vessels in the nose) has lots of causes, most of us think of colds or allergies, maybe a sinus infection. The author notes that chronic problems with congestion can lead to low self-esteem and reduced quality of life. I’ve never personally found my congestion to be THAT bad, but I suppose there could be some cases.

Most over the counter decongestant work by stimulating adrenergic receptors. These would be drugs like Sudafed. Drugs like Claritin are allergy drugs that block histamine, and so work a different way. So anyway, stimulating adrenergic receptors causes vasoconstriction, and constricting the blood vessels of the nose will relieve congestion. But the author notes that this is not necessarily a good thing. Adrenergic stimulation could lead to problems with vasoconstriction in other areas, which could be bad if you have problems like hypertension. Also, using decongestants for a while will make you tolerant, and your congestion will just get more difficult to fight.

So the author proposes a more…natural method of decongestion. “It is known that sexual arousal in men is followed by penile erection and subsequent ejaculation” (unless of course you’ve taken too much Viagra or something). The emission phase of ejaculation is under the control of the sympathetic nervous system, which of course has lots of adrenergic receptors. The author reasons that ejaculation will stimulation adrenergic receptors in the refractory period immediately afterward, and stimulation of your adrenergic receptors will give you relief from your cold.

The author proposes that, with proper scheduling of masturbation and/or sexual intercourse a guy could keep his nose clear for the rest of his life! I wonder how the partner takes that. “Honey, come here, my nose is stuffed up…” And what if your nose is REALLY messed up? I hope those people work from home.

That is why I love science. Not only does it cure shit, but it also adds a lot of amusement to my daily life.