January 24, 2023

Sinus Rinses: Uses and Benefits for Allergy Relief

Allergies are annoying, and sometimes they can be downright debilitating. If you’re looking for immediate sinus relief, a sinus rinse (nasal rinse) is a great option to help relieve the pressure and congestion that have built up in your sinuses. Understanding the root causes of your sinus issues and congestion will better prepare you for long-term relief. 

What is an allergy?

An allergy can be relatively anything. Ranging from environmental allergens, like mold, dust, pet dander, to food allergens like, peanuts and shellfish. When you come into contact with these allergens, your immune system activates allergy cells causing mast cells which release histamine, which is what causes you to feel so bad. 

There are several reasons why you may be experiencing allergy symptoms such as congestion, runny or stuffy noses, or even headaches. Reason one could be inflammation. Allergies can cause inflammation of the nasal passages, which can make breathing through your nose difficult because of how swollen and inflamed it is.  

Secondly, allergies also increase mucus production in your body, which can result in more drainage from your nose or mouth when you blow it out from those areas. Your body is trying to protect itself from allergens by producing mucus and swelling up your nasal passages in order to filter out any allergens that get through your nose and mouth. This can create a lot of pressure inside your head, which causes headaches and stuffiness.

Thirdly, the overproduction of histamine that is caused by allergies also contributes to this by interacting with the histamine receptors that are found on the nerves and blood vessels of the nose.

What is a nasal rinse? 

A nasal rinse is also known as sinus rinsing or nasal irrigation. This is the use of a saline solution to help clear out mucus buildup and reduce inflammation to relieve congestion caused by allergies, colds, or sinus infections. It also helps remove allergens from deep inside your sinuses, which helps prevent future flare-ups.

When should I use a nasal rinse?

If you have allergies, you may be familiar with these common symptoms. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, a sinus rinse will help ease some of the discomfort. Here are the symptoms that indicate a sinus rinse might be right for you:

Even if there isn’t any mucus present, you may feel like your nose is stuffy or blocked because of swelling in the membranes that line your nose and sinuses. This can make it difficult for air to pass through your nostrils easily and cause a stuffy sensation when breathing through your nose.

What is a saline solution?

A saline solution for a nasal rinse is made up of salt, baking soda, and water. This mixture can help allergy sufferers with chronic allergies or sinus issues find relief without the use of over-the-counter medications. 

You can buy a saline solution at your local drugstore or pharmacy or make your own.

How do I make a saline solution at home?

Ingredients you’ll need:

  1. 3 tablespoons iodine-free salt
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1 cup of distilled or boiled water (do not use tap water as it may aggravate symptoms and lead to infections.)

Mix your iodine-free salt and baking soda and store in an airtight container. To 1 cup of distilled or boiled water, add 1 teaspoon of your salt and baking soda mixture.

If you experience a burning or stinging sensation, use less of the dry mixture. If you're mixing for a child, use half a teaspoon of dry mixture with half a cup of water instead.

What do I use for a saline rinse?

You can purchase nasal irrigation devices or kits such as a neti pot, NeilMed sinus rinse, Navage nasal irrigation, or a rubber bulb to perform a nasal rinse. These can be purchased at your local drugstore along with the saline solution.

A neti pot is typically a ceramic or plastic teapot-shaped device used for nasal irrigation. Simply fill the device with the solution and tip it so the solution flows from one side of the nostril and out the other. 

A NeilMed Sinus Rinse Kit contains an easy-to-use squeeze bottle and packets of premixed solution. Fill the bottle with distilled water in the bottle and mix in a premixed packet. 

A Navage nasal irrigation system uses powered suction to flush out the excess mucus. Fill the tank with distilled water, insert a SaltPod, and keep your head straight as the saline flows through your nose. 

How do I use a sinus rinse?

Here's how to do a sinus rinse, step-by-step:

1. In a container or device that can easily be poured from, combine your salt water and baking soda solution.

2. Pour the mixture into whatever device you're using for the rinse, and put your head over a sink.

3. Tilting your head down, turn it slightly to the left so that your right nostril is pointing slightly upwards.

4. Using half (4oz) of your solution, gently pour it into your right nostril while keeping your mouth open and breathing normally through it. You should feel it coming out of your left nostril.

5. Rotate your head so that you can repeat this process on your left side, using the other half (4oz) remaining solution in this manner: tilt your head down slightly, turn your head to left side so that your right nostril points downward; gently pour the remaining solution into your left nostril while keeping your mouth open and breathing normally through it as before.

If you feel solution dripping into your ear, gently blow your nose while performing the rinse to prevent spillage and discomfort.

How often should I use a nasal rinse?

We need a protective lining of mucus to trap bacteria and germs that enter the nasal cavity. But if you’re feeling especially congested, use your nasal rinse one to two times a day to remove any excess mucus. Beware that if you’re using a nasal rinse every single day, this can lead to little to no mucus in your nasal passages leaving you susceptible to sinus infections.  

Who can use nasal rinses?

It’s suggested that nasal rinses are not performed on infants or children under two years old. 

Sinus rinses can be used for older children, just be sure to use a child-sized nasal irrigation device. 

It’s FDA-recommended that those who are immunocompromised speak with their doctor before using a nasal rinse. 

These are great ways to irrigate and clean out your nasal passages so that they can drain properly again when you have allergies! For people who get allergies and sinus issues, it’s clear that a neti pot or any other nasal rinse of some sort is an effective short term solution. However, many people don’t realize that there are permanent solutions out there for patients with persistent nasal and sinus problems. If you do have allergies or other nasal/sinus problems, there are long term treatments such as immunotherapy or balloon sinuplasty that have been proven to help.   

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