Tag: sinus

Nasal Rinsing: Does It Really Relieve Congestion?

NeilMed Nasal Rinse Bottle

Between dust, mold, grasses, and trees, it can feel like allergy season lasts all year round. Maybe you’ve heard of nasal rinsing, or nasal irrigation, and wondered if it actually works. Surely you can’t “rinse” allergens away, right?

The evidence is clear: nasal rinsing does help relieve sinus symptoms. If you’re interested in treating your nasal symptoms without medication, read on to learn how nasal rinsing works.


What is Nasal Rinsing?

Nasal rinsing is a process of flushing your sinuses with a saline (saltwater) rinse. It can be helpful for many different sinus symptoms, including dryness, runny nose, allergies, cold, and sinus infections.

One of your nose’s primary functions is to filter air before it enters your lungs. The mucus lining your sinuses is vital to the filtration process. However, dryness and inflammation make it hard for mucus to drain, which leads to congestion and pressure.

Did you know that there are hair-like cilia in your nose that trap bacteria and particles? The cilia “wave” and pass particles to your throat. When you swallow them, they get destroyed by the acid in your stomach. However, when your mucus is too thick, the cilia aren’t able to move well. When bacteria and particles get trapped in your sinuses, you feel congested.

Nasal irrigation thins mucus and cleanses your nasal passages so that your cilia can function correctly. The saline solution used in a rinse also helps restore moisture in dry sinuses. If you’re not sure whether nasal rinses are a suitable treatment for you, schedule an appointment with Dr. Davis to discuss your symptoms and options.


How Do You Perform a Nasal Rinse?

Doing a nasal rinse is quick and simple. First, you need to mix your solution. Our recommendation is to purchase pre-measured sinus rinse packets from NeilMed and mix one pouch with 8 ounces of lukewarm distilled water. Each packet contains a mixture of sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate, which creates a saline (saltwater) solution when combined with distilled water. The pre-measured packets are convenient, pH balanced, and more sterile than mixing your own.

It’s very important that you use distilled or sterile in your nasal rinse. Tap water is not safe to use because it can contain bacteria and protozoa, including amoebas. When you drink tap water, your stomach acid kills any bacteria you ingest. However, your nose has no such mechanism, so organisms can survive inside your nasal passages and cause a serious, and potentially fatal, infection.

After you’ve mixed your solution, lean forward over a sink and tilt your head to one side. You want to encourage the saline rinse to flow in one nostril and out the other, so do not lean back or the rinse will go down your throat. It won’t hurt you if you swallow a little, it just won’t taste very good.


Illustration of a woman using a nasal rinse


Breathe through your mouth as you pour the saline into your upper nostril. The water will flow through your sinuses and out your lower nostril. When you’ve used half of your solution, stop and blow your nose to clear the remaining water out. Then, tilt your head the other way and repeat the process through your other nostril.

When you’ve finished, thoroughly wash your nasal rinse device with warm water and dish soap. Lay it out in the open air with good ventilation so that it dries thoroughly. Discard any remaining saline. The NeilMed saline is medication-free and safe for most people to use. However, if the solution irritates your nose, dilute it with a little extra water or rinse less frequently.

You can rinse daily, up to twice if you need it. Many people find that they can eventually cut back to rinsing about three times per week to manage their sinus symptoms.


Nasal Rinsing Devices

You may be wondering how, exactly, you’re supposed to get the saline rinse into your nostrils. There are several different devices available for your use.


NeilMed offers several types of irrigation devices including squeeze bottles and a battery-operated cordless pulsating nasal washer. To use, simply follow the directions above. The NeilMed system is the superior rinse device for most patients because it’s easier to use and more affordable than others. You don’t have to lean your body in a precise way, simply leaning over a sink and tilting your head is sufficient to maximize the impact of the rinse.

NeilMed Sinus Rinse bottle

Neti Pot

A neti pot looks like a small, ceramic teapot. You fill it with saline and put the “spout” at the opening of one nostril and follow the directions above, repeating for both nostrils. The neti pot has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine but has recently caught on in the United States.


The Naväge uses a small diaphragm pump to draw the saline solution up from a holding tank. It pumps the solution into one nostril and then “pulls” it out the other nostril into a second tank. Instead of irrigating over the sink as you do with a neti pot, the Naväge collects the used saline.

According to the manufacturer, there is no need to rinse both sides of the nose in a single session. However, Naväge advises users to rotate the nose piece and switch nostrils at least once a week.

Bulb Syringe

Bulb syringes work the same as the NeilMEd and neti pot. Parents can also use bulb syringes to help their children irrigate. Toddlers and babies may benefit from using a few drops of saline to help suck mucus out of the nostrils. Always check with your doctor before doing nasal irrigation with your children.


Prescription Nasal Rinse

If at-home rinses don’t have the effect you desire, speak to your physician about combining a saline rinse with prescriptions such as Budesonide (Pulmicort) or Mometasone. Budesonide and Mometason are corticosteroids primarily used for wheezing and shortness of breath in patients with asthma. They reduce irritation and swelling in the airways.

When mixed with saline solution, Budesonide and Mometasone have been successful in managing sinus symptoms in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis and recurring allergies. If you think you may be a candidate for Budesonide or Mometasone, schedule an appointment with Dr. Davis to discuss your treatment options.


Rinse Your Way to Better Breathing

You can use nasal rinses alone or in conjunction with other sinus treatments. If you’re suffering from persistent congestion or just battling a cold, give nasal rinsing a try. If you’d like to learn more about nasal irrigation or other treatment options, get in touch!


Discover how the team at ExcelENT of Alabama can help manage your ear, nose, and throat symptoms.


Contact ExcelENT of Alabama to discuss your symptoms and create a treatment plan.

Breathe Easier with SINUVA

young woman outside smelling a wildflower

Everyone experiences nasal congestion throughout their lives. For most people, the congestion is a temporary symptom of allergies or a cold. For others, sinus blockage and congestion are persistent. What causes this lasting congestion? For some people, the source is nasal polyps.

A new sinus implant called SINUVA may be an effective, nonsurgical treatment option if a patient’s polyps return after ethmoid sinus surgery.


What Are Nasal Polyps?

Nasal polyps are soft, painless, benign growths inside the nasal passages. When polyps are small, a person may not know that they’re there. However, polyps that grow in clusters can block the nasal passages and inhibit sinus drainage.

Some common symptoms of nasal polyps are:

  • Congestion
  • Breathing problems
  • Recurring infections
  • Reductions in the senses of smell and taste
  • Sinus pressure
  • Pain in upper teeth or face
  • Sinus pressure
  • Nosebleeds

Since nasal polyps obstruct normal airflow and sinus fluid drainage, they can cause secondary issues. Some patients may experience obstructive sleep apnea, asthma flare-ups, and sinus infections as a result of their nasal polyps.

illustration of nasal polyps in the sinuses

Causes of Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps can develop in people of all ages, but they are most common in young adults and adults in their middle ages. Patients with prolonged inflammation from allergies, infections, or chronic sinusitis have an increased risk of developing obstructive nasal polyps.

Swelling that lasts 12 weeks or more is generally considered chronic. If you are experiencing prolonged congestion, schedule an appointment with ExcelENT. Dr. Davis may perform a nasal endoscopy to see if polyps are causing your breathing issues.

Unfortunately, polyps are a chronic problem. It’s likely that once they occur, they will persist throughout a patient’s life.


Traditional Treatment

The goal of nasal polyp treatment is to reduce the size of the polyps to improve a patient’s breathing and sinus drainage. Usually, treatment begins with a nasal steroid spray to reduce the polyp inflammation. Your doctor may also suggest nasal rinses. Nasal sprays are only a temporary treatment, and patients who discontinue the spray will notice their symptoms return.

If nasal sprays do not provide you with adequate relief, your physician may consider surgical removal of the polyps. During surgery, your doctor will remove the infected tissue and bone in the ethmoid sinuses that are blocking your normal sinus drainage.

Surgery works in conjunction with nasal sprays. Once the polyps are reduced and the ethmoid cavity is open, the medication delivery is much more effective. Consistent use of nasal spray following surgery may help reduce sinus inflammation enough to keep polyps manageable.



Even with surgery, a patient’s polyps may return. Some patients may need or want a better treatment option than daily nasal spray or a second round of nasal surgery.

SINUVA is a new, innovative sinus polyp treatment for patients who have already undergone ethmoid sinus surgery. SINUVA is a 20-millimeter-long sinus implant made of bioabsorbable polymers. It delivers an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid, mometasone furoate, right into the polyps. The medicine shrinks the polyps, opening a patient’s airway and allowing better sinus drainage.

A physician places the SINUVA implant during an office visit. Most patients report that they cannot feel the implant once it’s in place. After 90 days (or fewer at your doctor’s discretion), your physician will remove the implant.

Since the SINUVA implant is a bioabsorbable polymer, it softens over time. It’s possible for patients to accidentally expel the implant near the end of treatment with a sneeze or if they blow their nose forcefully.



SINUVA implant for nasal polyps


Preventing Polyps After Treatment

Polyps are a chronic problem, but there are several things that patients can do to manage the inflammation that contributes to polyp growth.

Patients should:

  • Manage seasonal allergies
  • Avoid nasal irritants such as tobacco, allergens, and fine debris
  • Humidify their home to help mucus flow and drain from sinuses
  • Use nasal rinses to improve mucus movement and clean out allergens

If you’re suffering from chronic congestion and breathing issues, schedule an appointment with ExcelENT. Dr. Davis is a sinus expert, and together, you can determine which treatment is right for you. It is possible to manage your nasal polyps.



Discover how the team at ExcelENT of Alabama in Birmingham, AL, can help manage your congestion.

Do you have persistent congestion? Contact the team at ExcelENT of Alabama today to schedule an appointment for a medical evaluation to receive the proper diagnosis and treatment plan for your congestion.