Sinus Rinse

Nasal saline irrigation

Nasal Saline Irrigation
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Nasal saline irrigation has been shown to be a beneficial therapy in the treatment and prevention of sinus infections and allergic rhinitis. This non-pharmacologic therapy involves rinsing the nasal passages with a salt-water solution, helping to rid the nose of allergens and mucus. This may reduce the need for antibiotics in those people prone to sinus infections.

Saline rinses help to prevent the crusting of secretions in the nasal passages, which may otherwise block the sinuses from draining.

If the sinus drainage sites become blocked, which could also occur with swelling from allergies or irritants, a sinus infection may develop. Saline rinses also serve to reduce tissue swelling in the nasal passages and improve the clearance of mucus.

Various nasal saline rinse kits are available commercially, including the Sinus Rinse brand, which contains pre-mixed salt packages. Alternatively, a nasal bulb syringe can be used with a homemade salt-water mixture.

To make your own saline, mix the following in a clean container:

  • ½ to 1 teaspoon non-iodized salt (such as pickling or canning salt)
  • Pinch of baking soda (to prevent burning – can increase the amount as needed)
  • 1 cup of warm water (filtered or previously boiled water)

Directions: Place the above mixture in a reusable sinus rinse bottle or draw up into a nasal bulb syringe. The most convenient way to perform a sinus rinse is in the shower, but may also be performed over a sink.

The head should be tilted down, with the rinse bottle or bulb syringe placed into one nostril. With your mouth open, the bottle or syringe is squeezed with moderate force, so that the water can go through the nasal passages and out through the mouth. If this makes you gag or hurts your ears, squeeze more gently and have the water come back out through the nose.

You may notice that mucus comes out of the nose with the water. Keep rinsing one side of the nose until the water comes out clear. Repeat the same process for the other nostril.

Saline irrigation may need to be performed on a daily (or multiple times per day) basis for people with severe symptoms, or less often as symptoms improve.

After rinsing, it is recommended to wait 30 to 60 minutes prior to placing any prescription nasal sprays into the nose. Using nasal sprays prior to this time may make them ineffective, as the saline will continue to drain for a period of time after the rinses are performed. It is also not recommended to perform sinus rinses within at least 60 minutes prior to going to bed, as the saline will drain down the back of the throat, and could cause a cough.

Do you have some helpful hints on how to use nasal saline rinses? Want to learn from other readers who do? Check out the user comments site on nasal saline rinses and Neti pots.


Practice Parameter Update on the Diagnosis and Management of Sinusitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Available at: 

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