Causes of Bad Odor After Blowing Nose

An ear, nose and throat doctor explains some likely causes of a bad smell after blowing your schnoz.

Blowing your nose is not supposed to result in a bad or foul smell, so when it does, what can this mean? “Bad odor after blowing the nose is usually caused by old mucous in the sinuses or a sinus infection,” explains Dr. Stacey Silvers, MD, of Madison ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery in NYC, who is board certified in otolaryngology.

Another cause of a bad smell from blowing:
“Occasionally acid from the stomach has been seen in the back of the nose,” says Dr. Silvers.  “This alone can cause a bad odor from the nose, but can also lead to higher incidences of sinus infections.”

There are two kinds of sinus infections: acute and chronic. Dr. Silvers says that a chronic sinus infection does not come with congestion or fever, but may “present with fatigue, pressure over the cheeks and forehead, and a bad odor in the nose after blowing.”

The chronic sinus infection often also comes with headaches, and if you just happen to have one of these headaches while you blow your nose, don’t be surprised if the headache intensifies while you blow. Any kind of straining, including for bowel movements, can make a sinus headache feel worse.

If a sinus problem is causing the bad smell after blowing your nose, Dr. Silvers says that a neti pot with a sinus rinse can be very helpful.  “If it is not, then see your doctor or your ENT for a nasal/sinus exam and a culture.”