By – Dr Vikas Agrawal, ENT Surgeon
In a rather unexpected turn of events, 29-year-old Priyanka Tripathi found herself in an unusual situation while performing pranayama ( yogic breathing exercises). Having suffered from a deviated nasal septum (the wall separating the two nasal chambers) since childhood, Priyanka had been facing various uncomfortable symptoms, including congested nostrils, nosebleeds, and noisy breathing during sleep. Her family, adhering to traditional beliefs, had suggested that engaging in meditation and yoga would naturally address her nasal issue.
However, rather than enrolling in a guided and supervised program, Priyanka decided to follow random YouTube videos for her pranayama practice. Unfortunately, one of the instructors she followed advocated forceful inhalation and exhalation during the pranayama (breathing exercises) leading to a series of detrimental consequences.
Due to the forceful breathing, she developed a nasal polyp, which is a soft, non-cancerous growth that can form in the lining of the nose. This polyp, triggered by the unsupervised pranayama, ultimately detached and fell, causing her nose to bleed profusely. It looked gruesome and Priyanka was rushed to the doctor.
Dr. Vikas Agrawal, Asia’s leading ENT surgeon recalls, “Forceful breathing can lead to the development of a polyp, which can lead to bleeding or a polyp fall. Further, if the septum (bone separating the nostrils) is not straight, breathing is disturbed. Add unsupervised exercises to this mix and polyps develop because of continuous pressure change during exercise and eventually fall off, leading to bleeding.”
The incident serves as a cautionary tale for those seeking to address health issues through alternative practices without proper guidance. It is very common to develop polyps, and the reason for it can be attributed to allergies (may or may not be related to deviated septums) and pressure changes.
Even though yoga and pranayama have been known for their numerous health benefits, it is essential to approach them with caution and seek guidance from trained instructors, particularly if one has pre-existing health conditions like a deviated septum.
As Priyanka’s experience demonstrates, blindly following random instructions from online sources can have unintended and adverse consequences. Engaging in practices that involve the respiratory system without proper supervision can be risky, and individuals with underlying health conditions should exercise extra caution.