I recently posted a 4-part series on the natural remedy, saline nasal rinses:
What is their benefit? What is the evidence that they work? How to do them? How to make them?
Here are a couple follow up points based on questions from readers:
Easy Does It
If once per day is good, isn’t 4 times per day 4 times better? NO, not really! Saline nasal and sinus rinses reflect a fine balance between the benefits of rinsing all the bad stuff out (viruses, bacteria, mold, allergens, pollutants), and simply irritating the lining of the nose and sinuses. Easy does it. Be kind to your nose.
Keep Your Cilia Happy
Let’s face it – if you’re thinking of doing sinus rinses your nose and sinuses are ALREADY inflamed anyway. Don’t push it. Once per day is great for prevention and maintenance of healthy sinuses. Kick that up to twice per day during an acute infection (virus, whatever). Just don’t do saline rinses more than twice per day. Studies show that your cilia won’t like it.
And you want those cilia to be happy. You want to optimize muco-ciliary clearance. (Say that 3 times fast. Dare you.) See Nasal and Sinus Anatomy post in April (maybe just the Cliff Notes) for more details about the role of cilia in maintaining healthy sinuses. Also a future post will be devoted to cilia, what can go wrong with them, how to care for them. Be kind to your cilia.
Consider additives: for chronic rhino-sinusitis (CRS) or recurrent sinusitis, get your hands on some Manuka honey (check boogor doctor’s Amazon Store in the right column; disclaimer: Amazon affiliate). More on Manuka honey next week in a post devoted to the medicinal qualities of honey.
For truly severe, debilitating CRS, some of my patients get custom-made solutions containing antibiotics. This seems to work especially well for those with CRS and Staph infections (including MRSA), or those with fungal sinusitis. I have my formulations provided by Sinus Dynamics (Disclosure: NO financial or other relationship). These require a physician’s prescription.
For those of you who make your own saline, this is the formula for hypertonic saline (for chronic sinusitis, or super stuffy nose) that I used prior to switching to one of the store-bought preparations:
- 1 liter distilled water (distillation purifies and nearly sterilizes it)
- 2-3 tsp salt (kosher canning or pickling salt)
- 1 tsp baking soda (‘buffers’ it so it doesn’t burn as much)
- For chronic sinusitis: add 3-7 tablespoons Manuka Honey
NOT to be used on a daily basis for long-term – your cilia won’t like it. It is great for short-term rinses for severe, acute sinusitis, when you need to reduce the swelling fast.
Don’t Kill It
Mix, microwave gently to dissolve. Even better: slowly heat over the stove to dissolve. Allow to cool – do not use hot!
Don’t over-heat. Heat just enough to dissolve ingredients.
Excessive heat kills the active enzymes and proteins in the Manuka Honey.
Final comment: saline irrigation of your nose and sinuses is THE single most effective means of reducing or eliminating your symptoms of allergic rhinitis or sinusitis, and even asthma. It may be the ONLY thing that helps you control chronic sinusitis or CRS.
Yes, it may be unpleasant (I have friends who actually enjoy doing it, but they are my friends, so that tells you that their judgement is suspect). It is especially unpleasant to do this for / with / to a little child, but it WILL help.
If everyone with rhinitis and sinusitis were doing saline rinses I might be out of business. On second thought, nobody should be doing these, everyone stop now ~(;-)) For a convincing medical case with CT scan images, see previous post on 3-year-old boy hospitalized with severe sinusitis.
In case I wasn’t clear about this (I probably wasn’t): Saline Rinses work GREAT for allergic rhinitis, not just sinusitis.
If you are just checking into this site, also check the 4-part series on Saline Sinus Rinses that were posted April through May, 2010. Those posts have resources listed that the super-curious may find interesting.
So, what do YOU use?
POLL (please leave comments):
If doing sinus rinses, do you use: (1) suction-bulb / syringe (like you suck a baby’s nose out with); (2) a Neti pot; or (3) a plastic squeeze-bottle, like the ones in the store-bought kits. I know, some of them have neti pots instead.
Thanks for visiting, and see you here again. I appreciate your comments and questions. Keep ‘em coming. And please, “be excellent to one another.”
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Best of health and success to you and your families.
Until next time, remember … you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose (unless you’re a boogor doctor :~D)