Sinus hygiene:  or avoiding recurrent allergy symptoms and infections

Marc J. Crupie, M.D.

 Saline nasal irrigation is one of the simplest, least expensive and most efficacious home procedures in medicine. There is no medication, prescription
or otherwise, that offers more benefit than simple nasal hygiene by irrigation using this type of solution. Irrigation may be performed in a number of ways, the simplest being to obtained a gallon of distilled water, boil this water with 4 tablespoon of salt, return this solution to the container and you have a gallon of normal saline solution which is the same salinity as many bodily fluids. This "normal 0.9% saline" concentration is more efficacious at removing mucous and particulate matter, as well as more comfortable to the nasal membranes, than plain water or more heavily salted water.

The idea is to wash the particulate matter that has accumulated, during a day of inhaling dust and pollen, off the nasal membranes. So in essence one is showering the nasal membranes. This requires a volume of the saline solution. Drops will not do! Would you stand in the shower with an eyedropper and expect your skin to be cleansed? A volume of at least 5 to 10 ml's or more is required 2 or 3 times until you
flush clear.

Any mode of delivery comfortable for you will usually suffice. The simplest way to deliver the solution is to pour it into a cupped hand, place one nostril in the solution, and then inhale it into the nose then rapidly expelling it. Repeat this on both sides until the membranes are fully cleansed. Only time, trial and error will teach you when the membranes are adequately washed.

You can find a staggering array of consumer irrigation delivery systems and premixed saline solutions on the market, if you so desire. One of the better over-the-counter all in one preparation, which includes a delivery system, is called "Simply Saline". In the final analysis delivery is simply personal preference. No current delivery system is superior.

How you deliver the saline is less important than the volume delivered the frequency with which you deliver it or the cleansing success you achieve. Remember, for the best results this must be done prior to bedtime every night and if symptomatically necessary again in morning.

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