|Nasal Irrigation an Easy Way to Relieve Congestion|
|Sunday, 08 March 2009 17:00|
Dear Mayo Clinic:
Can nasal irrigation help relieve nasal and sinus congestion?
Nasal irrigation involves rinsing out nasal passages with salt water (saline). Rinsing flushes out thickened mucus and irritants, such as dust and allergens, from the nose. It may also help ease swelling in the lining of nasal passages. You can make an irrigation solution by dissolving 1/8 teaspoon of table salt into 8 ounces of warm (about body temperature) water. Or, saline nasal solutions are sold over-the-counter.
To perform nasal irrigation, use a bulb syringe to draw up the saline solution from a bowl. While leaning over a sink, gently place the tip of the syringe into your nose. Don't insert it all the way inside. Instead, insert the syringe a distance equal to the width of your fingertip. Angle the tip of the syringe toward the top of the ear on the same side, then slowly squeeze the bulb so the liquid gently squirts into your nose. Let the solution drain from your nostril. It may come out of your other nostril or from your mouth. Irrigate both sides of your nose, using two full syringes of solution in each nostril.
After each use, clean the syringe thoroughly to prevent bacteria growth. Fill it with fresh, clean water, and then squeeze out the fluid. Repeat several times until the water coming out is clear. Dry the bulb syringe and store it tip-down in a clean cup so it drains completely.
If you prefer not to use a bulb syringe, other tools are available for nasal irrigation. For example, over-the-counter sinus rinse kits include saline nasal solution and a rinse bottle that you fill with the solution and then squeeze into your nostrils. Sinus irrigators are another alternative. These devices gently force the saline through your nostrils.
One popular option for nasal irrigation is a special container called a neti pot. Fill the neti pot with warm salt water or an over-the-counter saline nasal solution. Then tilt your head over the sink, place the spout of the neti pot in the upper nostril, and lift up the pot so that saline flows into your nose. The salt water will flow through your nasal cavity and out the lower nostril. Repeat on the other side.
Sinus rinse kits, sinus irrigators and neti pots are available online and in most pharmacies and health food stores. If you buy one of these products, follow the label instructions carefully.
Nasal irrigation can be performed several times a day, if needed to relieve symptoms. Most people find that nasal irrigation effectively eases congestion when used regularly. Research comparing nasal saline sprays with nasal irrigation found that nasal irrigation provided greater relief. The reason may be that nasal irrigation uses a greater volume of salt water and may be better at flushing out mucus and irritants.
If you have any questions about nasal irrigation, or if your nasal symptoms don't improve, talk to your doctor.
- Daniel Blum, M.D., Otorhinolaryngology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.oem software