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Saline nasal sprays and rinses

If nasal passages are blocked by allergies, sinusitis, infections or colds, rinsing them out with a salt water solution or spray can help bring relief from symptoms.

Another approach is breathing in steam from a bowl of very hot water, but 2016 research by the University of Southampton published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that rinsing was more effective than steaming.

The NHS recommends rinsing the nasal passages with a salt water solution. This is also known as nasal irrigation or nasal douching.

Special products, such as neti pots and ready-made solutions, are available from pharmacies for nasal rinsing. Ask the pharmacist for recommendations for your symptoms.

Or you can make a homemade solution. Here's how:

  • Make sure hands are clean and dry
  • Dissolve one teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda into a pint (568ml) of cooled boiled water
  • Lean over a sink. Put a small amount of the solution into a cupped hand and sniff into one nostril at a time, or use a syringe
  • Repeat as necessary

Carry out this technique several times a day, but make sure a new solution is made up each time to help avoid infections.

If some of the solution goes down the back of the throat, spit it out. Although the solution won’t cause harm, it is best not to swallow it.

If you’re unsure about using a saline nasal spray or saline solutions for home irrigation, talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist who can show you how to use this natural remedy to keep your nose clear of thick mucus and debris so you can breathe more easily.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 09, 2016

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