Nasal irrigation is believed to help break up mucus in the nasal passage. Doctors from the Department of Otolaryngology at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) explain how it may help ease sinusitis symptoms.
Some studies show that nasal rinsing does help ease sinusitis symptoms
Nasal irrigation has its roots in the ancient Hindu practice of Ayurveda and was first reported in Western medical literature in the 1900s. Rinsing the nasal cavity by pouring a warm salt solution into the nasal passage is believed to help sinus sufferers.
The sinuses are the air-filled spaces that surround the nasal cavity as well as the area above and between the eyes. Some people are more prone to nasal congestion because of recurrent infections of the upper respiratory tract, allergies, deformities in the nose, or immune deficiencies.
Doctors typically prescribe steroids and antibiotics to treat chronic sinus sufferers. In cases where drug therapy isn’t effective, surgery can help unblock the sinuses. Surgery is also done if there are complications such as structural abnormalities or fungal sinusitis.
Some sinus sufferers have turned to nasal irrigation for help with their blocked nose. It isn’t clear how nasal flushing actually works, but some believe that the rinsing action helps break up the mucus, while others think rinsing stimulates the hairs in the nasal passage to clear the mucus, say doctors from the
Department of Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose & Throat),
Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the
Some studies have shown that nasal rinsing does help ease sinusitis symptoms, and improvements in scan results have also been documented. The improvement in symptoms is modest in some cases, and in most studies, the patients feel better after using the rinse.
Proper care and cleaning of the irrigation bottles is essential as there is a risk of infection from contaminated bottles or solutions. Doctor noted that in the United States, people reportedly have died from amoebic contamination of the nasal rinse when contaminated tap water was used. Although the risk of such contamination is low in our local setting, it is still advisable to use distilled or cooled boiled water.
The practice is generally safe although users might feel some common side effects such as a burning sensation in the nose, nasal discomfort, and tearing. Nasal flushing is performed on post-surgery patients as often as three times a day at SGH, said doctors, but once or twice is sufficient for other people.