It is that time of year again, with everyone sniffling and congested and looking for relief. Before you head to the pharmacy for an over the counter sinus medication, you may want to give a simple saline rinse a try.

Your sinus cavities are much like tunnels in the bones of your face. The main reason for these little passageways is to allow air to move to compensate for pressure changes. When your body produces extra mucus in response to an irritant like an allergen or virus, these cavities can become clogged, and in some cases even infected. When they become clogged, they can cause a feeling of pressure or pain.

So how can you help prevent the clogged passageways from harboring bacteria and developing into an infection? Good old fashioned saltwater. Recent research has proven the effectiveness of a good old-fashioned saline rinse.

While saline sprays may be less irritating to use, they aren’t as effective as sniffing saline solution directly into the nose. Lying on your back and dripping a saline nasal rinse into each nostril, then sniffing in can best accomplish this. Alternatively, a neti-pot may be used, but be certain to keep it properly sanitized between uses.

By Ramie A. Tritt, M.D., President, Atlanta ENT