Guest Column: Reducing colds through nasal washing

What if we could reduce the number of viral particles in our noses? What if we could reduce the number of colds we develop?

It is a known fact that colds and influenza are spread by aerosol droplets. These particles travel over many feet via sneezing and coughing, then we breathe in those particles through our nose; they spread because we fail to wash our hands, we touch infected objects and then touch our mouth, nose and eyes.

During the cold and flu season, many of us will experience that miserable “hit by a truck” sick feeling. We do know that washing the nasal lining with hypertonic saline solution will remove many of the irritants in the nasal lining; we also know that saline washing does no harm. I have heard from thousands of people who have shared the following scenario: “I used to get sick often, but once I began to wash my nose I quit getting sick so frequently. Now I experience only rare illnesses.”

I recently received this from Danny:

“Hey, Dr. Hana! It is hard to believe that one year ago, I was desperately searching for ANYTHING that would ease the constant persisting pain of my frequently reoccurring sinus infections. At the very least I would be completely knocked down six times each year. Each infection would find me out of commission for three to four weeks going from sinus drainage to a full blown chest and ear infection. Each infection would send me to the doctor’s office for two visits. Each infection would send me to the pharmacy to get prescriptions filled for steroids and sinus drying pills. The cost of the doctor’s visit and the prescriptions for just one infection would total at least $80. I don’t know if you understand the full effect until you list the yearly total. I would spend $480 on doctor’s visits and at least 18-24 weeks of the year down and out from sinus trouble!!!!??? Enter Dr. Hana and Nasopure. I wash my nose once in the morning and evening. I have some new yearly totals I would like to share with you: I have spent $0 on doctor visits and 0 minutes being affected by sinus trouble!!!!”

You know that all the OTC medications treat only the symptoms of a cold, and that treatment is only temporary. The temporary relief comes with a high price tag and proven side effects.

So why not wash? Recent studies show that nasal washing may help protect us from catching the common cold. Dr. Richard Ravizza of Penn State University recently spoke at the 50th Scientific Assembly of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He clearly stated: “Nasal irrigation treatment was effective in reducing the overall incidence of colds among practitioners.”

Ravizza told conference attendees that nasal irrigation has been a part of yoga health-oriented cleaning rituals for centuries. In their study, Ravizza and Penn State colleague Dr. John Fornadley divided 294 college students into one of three subgroups. One subgroup performed daily nasal irrigation, one took a daily placebo pill, and the third group was left untreated.

The authors found that students who used the daily saline rinse experienced a significant reduction in the number of colds contracted compared with non-users. Ravizza also said that most people who perform nasal irrigation require proper training.

It certainly improves the function of the nose, removes irritants and debris, and is economical. Best of all: nasal washing can do no harm. Why not wash?

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.


From the Jan. 18-24, 2006, issue

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