Guest Column: Nasal washing works during the cold and flu season

My patients often say, “You want me to do what for my nasal congestion?” I explain why nasal washing makes sense, why it is safe, and why it is effective in reducing both the symptoms and the use of medications. I then demonstrate the simple technique to patients as young as 3 years of age and as old as 90, and they are ready to try it. In this way, I have found that educating my patients about nasal health has resulted in my services being required less and less during the winter cold and flu season. You may think I am trying to put myself out of business, but since my job is keeping people healthy and helping them feel better, I love teaching people how to wash their noses.

With cold and flu season here, this is a wonderful time to share basic preventive health care. It has been clearly shown that daily nasal washing will reduce the number of infections a person experiences. Exposure to irritants such as bacteria and viruses causes swelling of the mucus membranes, causes an increase in mucus production, creates thicker and stickier mucus, and generally prevents the normal flow. A buffered salt solution washes particles out, shrinks nasal membranes, increases the efficiency of the nose hairs, thins secretions, and allows the tiny sinus openings to drain.

Nasal washes are also useful for allergy sufferers, firefighters, factory workers, farmers, gardeners, painters and others who frequently encounter pollutants. Exercise enthusiasts and people who are fed up with using too many medications sincerely appreciate the benefits of cleaning their noses. It is clear that antibiotics and antihistamines as well as nasal steroids are prescribed very easily. However, the side effects, the expense, the potential drug interactions AND the development of bacterial resistance is a concerning issue for our modern society. I tell my patients when discussing any recommended treatment option, “You should look at the pros and cons of each option offered to you prior to making your decision.” How can washing with saltwater hurt?

Nasal cleanliness is central to good health and is effective for anyone who wishes to prevent nasal woes or wishes to reduce their use of medications. It is important to have a system that makes washing easy, safe and effective. There are several methods currently available. The Nasopure Nasal Wash is a system I personally developed after years of teaching this practice to my patients. Nasopure makes it easy.

People are more likely to wash their nasal passages if it is incorporated into their daily routine—like brushing teeth, washing hands, shampooing hair, and YES: nasal washing!

Dr. Hana R. Solomon, M.D., is a practicing physician, with years of experience in helping patients with nasal, sinus and ear problems caused by colds, allergies, infections and exposures to pollution.

E-mail Dr. Solomon: Web: .

From the Dec. 28, 2005-Jan. 3, 2006, issue

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