If you’re all too familiar with the feelings of congestion and pressure that come along with chronic sinusitis, then you are most likely on the look out for a solution that will provide long-lasting relief. For some patients, sinus surgery is the best way to get relief. Others might not be ready for surgery just yet but might be wary of continually using over-the-counter medications and decongestants to treat their sinusitis.
That’s where saline, or a salt water solution, can come in. Saline can help rinse away debris and dust in the nasal passages and improve drainage in the sinuses.
What is Saline?
Saline is just a mixture of salt and water. You can buy a saltwater nasal spray or make your own solution at home by dissolving sea salt into boiled or distilled water. You have two options when it comes to choosing saline.
Option one is to choose a solution that’s isotonic. Option two is to choose a hypotonic solution. Isotonic saline solutions have a concentration that is the same as the concentration of saltwater found in your body. Hypotonic solutions have a higher concentration of salt. Either option will be effective and will help to rinse away mucus and debris.
How Does It Work?
Saltwater rinses moisturize your nasal passages, which helps improve the symptoms connected to sinusitis. When there is an excess of mucus in the nasal passages and sinuses, it is easier for bacteria to build up and to cause infection. Saline helps to rinse away any dry or excess mucus, providing relief and lowering your risk for infection.
Another way that saline can help your sinuses is by helping the cilia, the tiny hairs that line the nasal cavity. It’s the job of the cilia to help brush away dirt and dust. When the nasal passages are too dry, the cilia isn’t able to do its job as well.
How to Use It
If you want to try using saline to relieve your symptoms, you have a few options. One is to purchase an over-the-counter saline spray, which comes in a plastic bottle with a dropper or in a can with a spray nozzle. Another option is to use a neti pot.
A neti pot is a small pot, made out of metal, ceramic or plastic. It looks a bit like a tea pot. You fill the pot with warm saline, then place the nozzle in one nostril. You’ll need to tilt your head just so to allow the saline to pour into the nostril, up through the nasal passages, then out through the other nostril. Repeat with the other nostril.
If you don’t have a neti pot, you can rinse your nasal passages with saline using a bulb syringe.
Can You Make Your Own Saline?
Although you can purchase saline at the drugstore, you can also make your own solution at home. There are two things to keep in mind when making your own saline. One is that certain types of salt can be irritating to the nasal passages. You can use that salt in your cooking, but keep it out of your nose. Choose a non-iodized salt that doesn’t contain anti-caking ingredients or preservatives. Salt designed for pickling or canning is ideal.
The other thing to keep in mind is that some types of water are better to use than others. Although tap water is usually fine for drinking, it can contain bacteria that you don’t want to put in your nose. If you’re going to use tap water, it’s best to boil it first, to kill off any bacteria. Distilled water is an even better option.
To make the saline solution, combine three teaspoons of salt with one teaspoon of baking soda. Mix one teaspoon of that mixture with one cup of water so that the salt/baking soda dissolves. Save the rest of the salt/baking soda mixture for another use. Use the saline in a neti pot or bulb syringe.
ABOUT DR. RUBINSTEIN
Dr. Rubinstein has nearly sixteen years of experience helping patients with allergies and sinus problems in the Hudson Valley. A board certified facial plastic surgeon and board certified otolaryngologist, he has extensive knowledge of laser procedures, facial plastic surgery, and nasal and sinus treatments which allows him to improve aesthetics as well as functionality of the nose and facial features. Dr. Rubinstein received his board certifications through the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. To learn more about how to get relief from chronic sinus infections, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubinstein at the Hudson Valley Sinus Center by calling 845-562-6673.