Rinse my nose with salt water? Really?!?!
|Joanne M. Vitanza, M.D.
Board Certified Allergist-Immunologist
About the author: Joanne M. Vitanza, M.D. I am a board-certified Allergist-Immunologist with 15 years of clinical practice experience in the metro Denver area treating patients with nasal and sinus disease.
Everyone has nasal mucus, since it is the body’s natural way of clearing airborne particles and irritants that continuously are being inhaled into the nasal passages. But, most people’s noses have either an occasional or chronic need for help with this chore, such as when there has been an increase in exposure to airborne particles (eg, allergens) or irritants, or when mucus is being produced in larger than normal quantities (eg, due to allergies, a cold, or a sinus infection) or is thicker than normal (eg, due to exposure to dry air). Rinsing the nasal passages with salt water (called a nasal saline rinse) can provide the help that the nose needs, and many people think of it as a “natural treatment” since the rinse contains salt and water just as the human body does.
Using a nasal saline rinse can provide several benefits that you may not have considered. Importantly, it can reduce the amount of extra mucus and the thickness of mucus within the nasal passages, which can:
o improve air flow through the nose
o improve drainage from the tiny sinus openings into the nasal passages
o clear particles including allergens and irritants from the nasal passages to reduce contact time with the nasal tissue
o improve the nose’s own ability to clear mucus out of the nasal passages
And, nasal saline does not require a prescription, it is a cost-effective way of helping your nose do its job, its use is not associated with “rebound” nasal congestion, and it can be used as needed or continuously. Examples of as needed use include a single use whenever you are exposed to an irritant such as cigarette smoke and want to rinse it out of your nose, several days of use when you have a cold and are producing a lot of or thick mucus, and a few weeks or months of use during your pollen allergy season when you want to rinse pollen out of your nose and you are producing a lot of mucus. Continuous, long-term, daily use should be considered, for example, if you are exposed year-round to irritants or allergens that you are sensitive to and want to help your nose clear these out, if you have increased nasal mucus year-round due to allergies, or if you have chronic sinus problems and need to keep the tiny sinus openings clear of thick mucus.
There are several types of nasal saline preparations and many methods to rinse the nose with these preparations. You want to find the nasal saline preparation and method to rinse the nose that works best for you. NeilMed makes a variety of products and makes it easy to find the combination that will suit you. Check it out and try one; you soon will be a nasal saline rinse user and believer!