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With numerous options available on the market, it can be complicated to choose the best nasal irrigation system for your needs. You must first determine whether you need a short-term solution for temporary relief from cold symptoms, or whether you need a long-term treatment to aid with chronic sinus problems. Short-term sufferers can benefit from a simple saline spray or medicated spray, where long-term sufferers of allergic rhinitis or chronic sinusitis may need to choose a gravity-based or positive-pressure nasal irrigation system. In trying to choose the best nasal irrigation system, symptoms, personal comfort, and cost can be important factors. Your health care provider or pharmacist can also help you choose the best nasal irrigation system for your specific health needs.
Saline nasal spray can be effective in the short term for relieving dry sinus passages as well as temporary irritation and congestion, but it is relatively ineffective for nasal irrigation. Sprays do not deliver enough solution or pressure to thoroughly wash sinus passages. Since saline sprays do not reach all areas of the sinuses, they are not effective in treating recurrent sinusitis or allergic rhinitis.
Gravity-based nasal irrigation systems, commonly known as neti pots, generally are inexpensive and easy to use. A neti pot is simply a small pot with a spout that is filled with warm saline solution and poured into the nasal passages, using the force of gravity to help the solution flow through the sinuses. The flow of water is controlled by changing the angle of the head with the neti pot spout inserted into the nostril.
Some pre-mixed solutions are available for use in the neti pot. These solutions are typically pH-balanced for comfort and effectiveness when mixed with warm distilled water. Many people find that plain warm water or a simple homemade solution of pickling salt and baking soda works just as well for a fraction of the cost. Tap water and iodized table salt are not generally recommended to use in nasal irrigation because they contain impurities that can be irritating to the sinuses.
Positive-pressure nasal irrigation systems give the individual more control over the flow of water, and in some studies have been shown to be more effective than the neti pot. These systems generally consist of a squeeze bottle or a bulb syringe which the individual uses to control the flow and pressure of water through the sinuses. As with the neti pot, positive-pressure irrigation systems flush out the sinuses with warm water or saline solution that can be purchased or made at home.
Cost is another factor to consider when you choose the best nasal irrigation system. Electrical positive-pressure nasal irrigation systems are available, but these are generally more expensive than non-electric systems. While these electric nasal irrigators have been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of allergies and chronic sinus problems, their efficacy has not been compared to non-electric systems in studies.
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