Fong Chun Wai Esther
Natural Therapy for
Some doctors recommend sinus rinse as a natural therapy to relieve allergic rhinitis. The media has also widely promoted the efficacy of sinus rinse, so that many people with allergic rhinitis want to try it. Some patients with allergic rhinitis have indeed alleviated the symptoms of allergic rhinitis after sinus rinse, so they persevere and become a living habit. As a pharmacist, after collecting information, I hope to list some facts about sinus rinse from an objective perspective for readers’ reference.
Due to the nasal mucosal inflammation of patients with allergic rhinitis, secretions accumulate in the nasal cavity. After a day of breathing, allergens in the air such as dust mites and pollen are accumulated in the nasal cavity. Through the method of sinus rinse, the above substances are removed from the nasal cavity, which can naturally relieve nasal congestion and make breathing smooth. Studies have shown that sinus rinse for 3 months or less can safely and effectively relieve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Up to here, you may probably eager to try it. So, how to rinse your sinuses properly?
(1) The saltwater
Saline (sterile saltwater) is an ideal choice, but it is expensive. Some people use table salt and dissolve it with tap water. This is incorrect. Table salt may contain iodine, which may cause excessive intake of iodine when used for sinus rinse. Tap water contains bacteria, which may cause infection. If you use the ready-made sinus rinse kit, the saline should be dissolved in sterile distilled water. Moreover, purified water or saline with high concentration may irritate the nasal cavity, which are not recommended as well.
ⓐ Wash your hands thoroughly;
ⓑ Prepare the saline for sinus rinse;
ⓒ Lean head over the sink;
ⓓ Use the squeeze bottle as an aid, and squeeze saline into a nostril gently with your mouth open, to avoid water suck into your lungs. Try to let the saline come out from the opposite nostril. The saline flowing into the throat needs to be spit out through the mouth. Repeat this step on the opposite nostril.
ⓔ After rinsing, sniff and gently blow your nose, to remove the saline in the nasal cavity.
ⓕ Squeeze bottle must be thoroughly cleaned every time and replaced regularly according to the instructions.
You can rinse your sinus 1-3 times a day.
The following kind of people should not try sinus rinse:
ⓐ People who have difficulty following instructions
ⓑ People with ear infections
ⓒ People who are allergic to salt or the ingredients in the sinus rinse kit
Some foreign professors of allergy and immunology have hesitation about the long-term use of sinus rinse, because the nasal secretions have antibacterial function. Long-term use of sinus rinse will make the nasal secretions decrease, and will also make the villi on the nasal mucosal lose its function. So, if you rinse your sinus for a period of time, you should take a break after the symptoms have been improved.
According to the above, the steps of sinus rinse are not simple, and the requirements are very strict. If water containing bacteria is used accidentally, or the squeeze bottle hasn’t keep clean, or the saline in the nasal cavity is not completely removed, it will increase the risk of infection (e.g. ear infection). Therefore, you must follow the steps properly and carefully when rinsing your sinus.
Reference:  Head K et al., Saline irrigation for allergic rhinitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Jun 22;6:CD012597  US Food & Drug Administration. Customer Update. Is Rinsing Your Sinuses With Neti Pots Safe? 01/24/2017.  Kanjanawasee D, Seresirikachorn K, Chitsuthipakorn W, Snidvongs K. Hypertonic saline versus isotonic saline nasal irrigation: systematic review and meta‐analysis. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2018;32:269‐279  Professor Talal Nsouli, Department of Pediatrics and Immunology, Georgetown University, Washington, USA (https://abcnews.go.com/Health/Healthday/sinus-rinses-harm-good/story?id=9037062)