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November 2009

Frequent Nasal Irrigation may Increase Infections

New evidence suggests that daily nasal irrigation may increase the risk of sinus infections.

Nasal irrigation with warm saline has been promoted as way to cleanse the sinuses and help prevent infections. However, using this therapy too often may not be beneficial.

The latest study, presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (ACAAI) annual meeting, included 68 adults who used nasal irrigation frequently for one year and then stopped therapy for one year. The patients were compared to 24 control patients who did not discontinue nasal irrigation.

The researchers found that number of sinus infections decreased by 62.5 percent after the participants stopped using nasal irrigation. Additionally, after stopping nasal irrigation, they were 50 percent less likely to develop sinus infections than those who continued with daily therapy.

Mucus in the nose contains important immune system molecules that help the body fight against infections. Because nasal irrigation eliminates this mucus, the authors suspect that it may lead to an increased risk of infection.

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References

  1. Nsouli TM, et al. Long-term use of nasal saline irrigation: Harmful or helpful? ACAAI 2009; Abstract O32.
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. www.naturalstandard.com
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