Nasal Saline Irrigations for the Symptoms of Acute and Chronic Rhinosinusitis

Abstract

The use of saline nasal irrigation (SNI) in the treatment of nasal and sinus disorders has its roots in the yoga tradition and homeopathic medicine. In recent years, SNI has been increasingly observed as concomitant therapy for acute (ARS) and chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). Various devices are employed, such as nasal douches, neti pots or sprays. The saline solutions used vary in composition and concentration. This article gives a current overview of literature on the clinical efficacy of SNI in the treatment of ARS and CRS. It then answers frequent questions that arise in daily clinical routine (nasal spray vs. nasal irrigation, saline solution composition and concentration, possible risks for patients). SNI has been an established option in CRS treatment for many years. All large medical associations and the authors of systematic reviews consistently conclude that SNI is a useful addition for treating CRS symptoms. SNI use in ARS therapy, however, is controversial. The results of systematic reviews and medical associations’ recommendations show the existing but limited efficacy of SNI in ARS. For clinical practice, nasal douches are recommended—whatever the form of rhinosinusitis—along with isotonic and hypertonic saline solutions in CRS (in ARS to a limited extent). To prevent infections, it is essential to clean the nasal douche thoroughly and use the proper salt concentration (2−3.5 %). Conclusive proof of the efficacy of SNI in the treatment of ARS is still pending. In CRS, SNI is one of the cornerstones of treatment.

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Abbreviations

AAAAI:

American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology

AAO-HNO:

American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery

ARS:

Acute rhinosinusitis

BSACI:

British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology

CRS:

Chronic rhinosinusitis

EPOS:

The European Position Paper on Rhinosinusitis and Nasal Polyps

SNI:

Saline nasal irrigation

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Gena Kittel for her editorial assistance.

Disclosure

Dr. Mösges has received a speaker honorarium from NeilMed Ltd. UK. Dr. Achilles reported no potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article.

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Correspondence to Ralph Mösges.

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Achilles, N., Mösges, R. Nasal Saline Irrigations for the Symptoms of Acute and Chronic Rhinosinusitis. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 13, 229–235 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11882-013-0339-y

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Keywords

  • Saline nasal irrigation
  • Nasal douching
  • Acute rhinosinusitis
  • Chronic rhinosinusitis
  • Nasal washing
  • Nasal lavage