Ashford Clinic Blog
Is Nasal Irrigation Really Helpful?
Nasal irrigation is mentioned frequently as a way of treating symptoms related to nasal and sinus issues. Does it really work though? It actually can, and we’re going to walk you through the basics.
Why is it helpful?
Nasal irrigation helps your body get rid of irritants, infectious invaders, and mucus buildup that isn’t clearing on its own. While under normal circumstances the cilia (tiny hair-like structures in your nasal passages) move unwanted intruders down the back of your throat and into your stomach for destruction, illness or allergies can make things difficult for the cilia. Nasal irrigation helps to thin the mucus so that things can keep moving.
What should I use?
There are a variety of options when it comes to nasal irrigation, and Neti pots are a popular choice. It’s important though that you’re using distilled, sterile, or boiled and cooled water if you are mixing the saline solution at home. Pharmacy grade salt is available in loose or pre-measured packets and comes with simple instructions for mixing the correct concentration. You should also make sure that the Neti device used is properly cleaned and dried after each use.
If you’d prefer not to use a Neti pot, there are also sterile saline sprays available, and they can easily be found over the counter in most pharmacies. These spray a sterile mist into your nasal passages, which can be much more pleasant to individuals who don’t enjoy the sensation of the Neti pot rinses.
Are there risks?
Nasal irrigation can be helpful when used from time to time to help relieve allergy or illness symptoms, but it’s been found to decrease your body’s defenses when used regularly over long periods of time. Some doctors advise only using it for around three weeks.
The biggest risk comes from improper cleaning techniques or using water that is contaminated. Some tap water can contain low levels of organisms including bacteria and protozoa which can invade your nasal passages and lead to serious infections. Using distilled, sterile, or boiled and cooled water is safest for nasal irrigation.
What if it doesn’t work?
Some patients sometimes find nasal irrigation uncomfortable or difficult, or they may find that it just doesn’t seem to work for them. If you find that this is the case, or if you have concerns then it’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor. They should be able to answer questions or address concerns for your particular situation. You can also give us a call at 706-248-6860.