Nasal saline sprays and rinses
Establishing and maintaining healthy airways is easy, cost-effective and often overlooked. Inside your nose and sinuses is a lining of membranes that filters, humidifies and heats the air you breathe. It is part of the non-specific immune system and your first line of defence against germs, inhaled dust, allergens, extreme air temperatures or very dry air. A healthy nose relies on moist, clean membranes. Any drying, crusting or other interference can make you more susceptible to infections.
Simple saline is a wonderful “non-medicated” addition to the management of many conditions involving the nose and the chest, from simple colds to annoying allergies. Salines can be used at any age and as a great add-on to the treatment of allergic rhinitis as well as sinusitis. Some benefits and uses of saline are summarized below:
- Saline solution restores moisture to dry nasal passages and sinuses, reducing irritation and inflammation of mucous membranes.
- Saline can help to thin the mucous, making “effective nasal blowing” possible, to rid the nose of mucus as well as to cleanse the nasal passages of bacteria and viruses.
- Saline sprays and rinses can help keep the cilia moisturized and healthy. Cilia are small hair-like structures which help humidify air that goes into the lung, and trap bacteria to protect the airways. Hypertonic saline is an effective agent to optimise mucociliary clearance.
- Saline sprays and rinses can help to remove allergens such as pollen from the nasal lining, hence are useful to use after a day outside!
- Using saline first before steroid nasal sprays helps to rid the nose of thick mucous and debris- which can keep the steroid from working optimally. Hypertonic saline can act as a “solvent” to help clear the nose of debris and thick mucous. “Saline-then blow- then steroid spray” is a good rule to use for daily allergic rhinitis treatment.
Nasal salines can be used as a first line treatment for colds, flu and sinusitis and may help reduce the severity, duration and complications of these infections. Rinsing with hypertonic saline is recommended above cold and flu medicines. “Cold and flu” medications “dry up” the cold, which often leads to even thicker secretions. These secretions then become too thick to be effectively cleared by the membranes, increasing the risk of secondary infections.
In addition, saline is safe at all ages and can be used as often as needed!