Does Nasal Cleaning Work?

By: Mayo Clinic Email
By: Mayo Clinic Email

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May 9, 2011

Nancy Arant says it definitely looks a bit strange. But she's a firm believer that nasal cleansing helps decrease the allergy symptoms and cuts her risk of catching a cold.

Nancy uses what's called a neti pot. She fills it with eight ounces of water and about an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. "You keep your mouth open a little bit and it's neat how the water just drains through the other side. Almost immediately after I use it I feel my nasal passages open up", Arant said.

Nasal cleansing may feel good, but does it work? "It's actually helpful for any symptom that has to do with nasal congestion, nasal crusting dryness or runny nose. So allergies, colds, sinus infections are all often times helped by the simple procedure", said Dr. Daniel Blum.

Mayo Clinic Dr. Blum is an ear, nose and throat doctor who recommends nasal cleansing with salt water to his patients. He says your nose is like a filter. It functions by making a blanket of mucus to trap particles so they don't get into your lungs. In a normal nose this layer is renewed every ten minutes or so. But if dryness makes secretions thick, the nose can't clear it. Bacteria can grow. Nasal cleansing washes, the thick layer away, reducing congestion, dryness and your chance of getting an infection. Nancy cleanses her nose when she feels like it needs it. Dr. Blum says it's safe to do every day.

Dr. Blum says if you want to cleanse your nose regularly, use salt water and avoid decongestant nasal sprays. Prolonged use of those sprays could make the issue worse. If you do use them, be sure to follow directions on the label.

For more information from the Mayo Clinic, click here


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