What is it? It is a way to bathe and flush out virus, bacteria, allergens and mucus from the nasal cavity. It is thought to help by direct cleansing, removing inflammatory mediators, and helping the nasal hairs (mucociliary function) work better.
Why should I do it? Patients feel better: less post-nasal drip, less bothersome cough at bedtime, less sniffling. In addition, it has been shown to decrease use of antibiotics and medication-based (not saline) nasal sprays.
Who should NOT do nasal saline irrigation? Those with incompletely healed facial trauma
or those with difficulty controlling their breathing (as they may inhale the saline solution when they should be exhaling).
Who does it help most? Those with “rhinosinusitis”—a drippy, congested nose. It may also help with symptoms from (allergic or irritant-caused) rhinitis or a cold.
Is it expensive? No. There are nasal irrigation kits at the pharmacy. In addition, you can buy the salt/baking soda packs, or make your own (see the Wisconsin School of Medicine
web link below).
Thanks to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health for a recipe for saline solution, instructions for irrigation, trouble-shooting tips and links to audio and video teaching media.