Nasal irrigation can be very beneficial in treating chronic sinus problems and colds. Since this saline solution as it flows through the nasal cavity helps to clean and disinfect the allergens that cause mucus.

How the sinuses get blocked

The nose has two passages that filter air. In the bones of the skull are the four pairs of air-filled cavities called sinuses, which drain into these passages. The paranasal passages and sinuses are lined with a mucous membrane. If it becomes inflamed – for example, from a cold or an allergy – it swells and blocks the sinus drainage. Bacteria can build up leading to a sinus infection. Which leads to increased swelling, edema, congestion, and pain.

Why does nasal irrigation help sinusitis?

In the mucous membranes, hair-like structures called cilia, bacteria or other debris pass into the throat where it can cause damage by ingestion. When the membranes swell, the cilia can’t do their job. With nasal irrigation, the saline solution is used to flush the nasal passages. Salt water also restores moisture and eases inflammation of the mucous membranes. The swelling is reduced, making it easier to breathe.

Ways to reduce allergens

If you have allergies, avoiding allergy triggers will go a long way in making it easier to breathe. That means doing things like using air conditioning in your home and car during hot seasons, reducing indoor humidity, and always running exhaust fans in the shower and kitchen. Vacuuming regularly and using protective mattress and pillow covers can help, too.

Nasal irrigation for chronic sinus problems

How nasal irrigation works

Do you have a stuffy nose from allergies or colds? Nasal irrigation can help. Is that how it works. A saline solution is poured into one nostril. As it flows through the nasal cavity, in the other nostril, mucus and allergens are washed away. Use this step-by-step guide to see how to do it.

Step 1: Decide what you will need

For nasal irrigation, you will need a container and saline solution. You can buy the ready-made solution, or use a gummy pear or neti pot. All of them are available in pharmacies.

Step 2: Mix the saline solution

If you choose to buy a ready-made solution, skip this step. Otherwise, you can buy a saline powder and follow the directions on the label or make it yourself. Start with a cup or two of hot water. Add 1/4 to 1/2 tablespoon of non-iodized salt and a pinch of baking soda to soften the effect of the salt. Use sterile distilled water or pre-boiled and cooled water for the solution to help prevent infection.

Step 3: Get in position

If you are using a jar, neti pot, or syringe, lean forward over the sink at a 45-degree angle. Tilt your head so that one nostril is pointing toward the sink. Don’t tilt your head back.

Step 4: Pour in the saline solution

Place the spout of a Neti pot or the tip of a syringe or vial inside your nose. The tip should go beyond the width of a finger. Keeping your mouth open, squeeze the rubber bulb or jar, or tilt the pot to pour the water into the nostril. Remember to breathe through your mouth, not your nose.

Step 5: Let drain

The salt water will run through your nostrils and drain out of your other nostril and maybe your mouth. You must spit and not swallow . But if something goes to the throat it won’t hurt you.

Step 6: Clean your nose and repeat

Gently blow your nose to clear any remaining solution. Repeat the procedure with the other nostril. When you’re done, discard the leftover solution and thoroughly clean the items you used. Let it air dry. Store in a clean, dry place.

What if this stings or burns?

rat less salt in saline, and make sure you are using warm water – no hot or cold -. Make sure to tilt your head to the side at a 45-degree angle, and don’t tilt your head back. Keep your mouth open so you don’t breathe through your nose and swallow the saline solution.

How fast does the nasal wash work?

You can see the results after just one or two times. The benefits grow as you continue to do so. One study showed that long-term nasal irrigation helped people feel in control of their sinus symptoms and actually improved their quality of life .

How often is nasal wash used?

Sando saline only once a day can help thin mucus, decrease postnasal drip, and clean bacteria from your nostrils. You can also eliminate allergens that you have inhaled. After symptoms subside, some people find that three times a week is enough to keep them symptom-free.

How do you know if the nasal irrigation is right for you?

Nasal irrigation can benefit people with symptoms of chronic sinusitis, nasal allergies, acute sinusitis, colds, and nasal symptoms even from the flu. It can help adults and children. Some people use it every day to stay symptom free. You shouldn’t use it, however, if you have a stuffy nose or ear infection that makes it difficult to breathe.

Work with your doctor

One study showed that people with chronic sinus problems who used nasal irrigation were able to use fewer medications. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you. And if you are taking medication now, don’t leave without consulting your doctor first.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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