Sinus irrigation — the use of a saltwater solution to “wash” the sinuses — is recommended by allergists and other physicians as a mechanism for reducing symptoms of seasonal cold, allergies, and nasal or sinus irritation . Research also suggests that sinus irrigation, generally performed at home using a special sinus irrigation bottle or a device called a neti pot, is safe and isn’t associated with any serious adverse effects .
According to a new study in the latest issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery, saline irrigation treatments show greater efficacy versus saline spray for providing short-term relief of chronic nasal and sinus symptoms.
In the United States, 29.5 million people 18 years of age and older are affected by sinusitis . Millions more are affected by other types of allergic and non-allergic rhinitis (meaning irritation and inflammation of the mucosal membrane of the nose). Some people can reduce symptom severity using medication, including antihistamines and anti-inflammatory drugs. Antibiotics are frequently prescribed for acute and chronic sinusitis. However, their use far outweighs the predicted incidence of bacterial infection, suggesting that antibiotics are overprescribed for sinus infections. Regardless of the medication used however, for many patients, symptoms persist.
The sinuses are hollow spaces located inside the bones in the skull to either side of the nose, behind and in between the eyes, in the forehead and at the back of the nasal cavity. The sinuses are lined with a moist, thin layer of tissue called a mucous membrane, which not only humidifies the air as you breathe it in, but also produces mucus to trap irritants such as dust, pollen and bacteria. The sinuses are lined with microscopic hairs called cilia. The function of cilia is to move mucus to flush the sinuses and nasal passageways of trapped irritants.
Sinus congestion is the blockage of one or more of the nasal passageways as a result of inflammation and swelling of the sinus tissues, secretion of mucus or a deviated septum (meaning obstruction of the nasal passage by the membranous ridge of cartilage in the nose that separates the nasal cavity into the two nostrils). Sinus congestion leads to impaired flow of mucus out of the sinuses. The build up of mucus in the sinuses causes increased pressure. Also, bacteria can become trapped and infect the mucous membrane, a condition termed sinusitis.