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Does nasal lavage help with nose disorders?

Brian J. Broker, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)
Nasal Lavage can give temporary relief of nasal congestion by rinsing out thick mucus from the nose. But the mucus quickly reaccumulates.

Despite advertising claims, however, lavage cannot rinse out irritants or allergens to any significant degree because; a) the allergens quickly dissolve into the lining of the nose and b) whatever you can wash out quickly returns as soon as you take your next breath.

In patients who have had sinus surgery, lavage can help eliminate sinus infection because the surgery has widened the sinus pathways allowing the lavage to enter. In the average patient, however, the lavage cannot reach the sinus.

While neti pots can be used to rinse the nose, a plastic squeeze bottle works better and is much easier to use.
Nasal lavage, or nasal irrigation, helps to reduce the swelling and inflammation connected to nose disorders. To irrigate your nasal passages you will need a saline solution and a method of getting the water into your nose, which may be homemade or purchased. A purchased neti pot works well, but is not necessary for successful nasal irrigation. Nasal irrigation helps clean out excess mucus, bacteria, and other irritants. Follow all instructions precisely to ensure proper irrigation without increasing risk of infection. Do not use normal unsterilized tap water.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.