Sinus flush: How does it work?

The sinus flush is a form of self-care that allows a person to gently clean his nasal passages with a saline solution. It may open the nasal passages, clear the mucus and remove contaminants and irritants.

The flush sinus is a procedure which has many names and ancient origins. The sinus flush, also known as nasal irrigation, or neti pot care, has its roots in the Ayurvedic medicinal tradition.

This article discusses whether it works or not, how a person can perform the procedure safely, and the risks and benefits involved.

What is it?

A person may use a sinus flush to soothe chronic and acute sinusitis.
A person may use a sinus flush to soothe chronic and acute sinusitis.

One person rinses his nasal passages with a saline solution during a sinus flush.

A person may use a sinus flush to help with various upper respiratory problems including:

  • chronic and acute sinusitis
  • allergies
  • colds
  • viruses
  • environmental irritants

People can use a number of different implements to conduct a sinus flush, including:

  • a neti pot
  • a nasal syringe
  • an irrigation bottle

How to do it safely

To be safe, it may be crucial what form of water a person chooses.

For example, a person should use only distilled water, or water that is filtered and disinfected properly. This may help to prevent microorganisms that cause disease, such as amoebas, from entering the brain.

The best liquid to use is water that a person has boiled for at least 1 minute, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the absence of boiled, distilled, or sterile water, a person will filter the water. The mark should read “cyst removal” or include either “NSF 58” or “NSF 53.”

A person should mix up 3 teaspoons of iodine-free salt to 1 teaspoon of baking soda to create a saline solution at home. To 1 cup of water add 1 teaspoon of salt and baking soda mixture.

Instead, they can take these steps for perform a sinus flush:

  1. Lean over a washbasin and tilt the head to one side. To prevent liquid from going into the mouth, try to ensure that the chin and forehead are level.
  2. Breathing through the mouth, insert the spout into the upper nostril. The saline solution should drain through the lower nostril.
  3. Clear the nostril and repeat the process on the other side.

Whatever device a person chooses to use, cleaning it thoroughly is necessary to disinfect.

One 2017 study found that after 2 weeks 25 percent of bottles and bulb syringes had been infected with bacteria, and after 4 weeks 45 percent had been infected.

Does it work?

There is still no definitive proof that nasal irrigation works for all respiratory problems according to a 2019 scientific study. There’s evidence, however, that in many cases it can be helpful.

Daily nasal irrigation, according to a 2015 study, decreased symptoms in 35% of children and adults and improved quality of life by 30%.

Although the medical community has broad support for using nasal irrigation as a treatment, experts have not yet determined the best tool to use, or the most appropriate saline levels.

Risks

The principal risk of sinus flush is the likelihood of infection. For example, failure to properly clean the utensils may lead to infection.

Using non-completely sterilized water can also introduce microorganisms into the nasal cavity and cause conditions such as amoebic meningitis, which appears to be deadly.

Signs of aminebial meningitis could include:

  • severe headaches, typically at the front of the forehead
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fever

If the condition reaches the second stage, a person may experience:

  • seizures
  • a stiff neck
  • coma
  • hallucinations
  • an altered mental state

Some people may experience mild discomfort due to:

  • irritated nasal passages
  • water that is either too hot or too cold
  • ear pain
  • saline solution pooling in the sinuses and draining later

Benefits

The benefits of a sinus flush include:

  • removing mucus
  • cleaning dried mucus out of the nasal passages
  • helping the cilia, which are hair-like cells that sweep impurities out of the nasal passages, work better
  • clearing airborne irritants
  • diminishing swelling
  • reducing inflammation
  • keeping the nasal passages moist

When to see a doctor

Nasal irrigation can help to improve the recovery process and reduce the severity of symptoms caused by sinus infections.

In some cases, however, other health issues may be at stake, and medical help may need to be obtained.

If a person experiences any symptoms of aminebial meningitis, emergency medical attention is needed.

If they experience: A person should see a doctor

  • fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • serious headaches
  • worsening symptoms

Summary

Sinus flush, or nasal irrigation, is an ancient practice of healing that is gaining contemporary popularity, and a certain amount of scientific community supporting evidence.

The belief seems to be that the flush of the sinus will help reduce symptoms of common cold, chronic sinusitis and allergies.

There may however be a risk of severe infection. If a person experiences any odd symptoms, they need medical help.

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