Washing Away Allergies & Sinus Problems
by Diane Heatley MD

Approximately 70 million adults and children suffer from these symptoms and up to 15 percent of adults in the United States report sinus problems each year. Sinus symptoms can be related to cigarette smoke, polluted air and other seasonal inhaled irritants such as tree pollen, dust and mold. Sufferers experience uncomfortable sinus and head pain coupled with side effects from common treatments and drugs.

Although traditional treatments such as decongestants, pain relievers and antibiotics may provide a "quick fix" for symptoms, there is no proven cure for sinus problems. An option for relief without the worry of side effects does exist. A surprisingly simple non-drug treatment is catching on and it won't be found in a pill. Rather, sinus sufferers are turning to a modern, scientifically proven version of the neti pot used for washing the nose.

For centuries, nasal washes have been used as a cleansing ritual in the practice of yoga. A new version of this treatment uses a plastic pot designed to be easier to use than the original glass neti pots, and is now easier to find than ever before. Nasal wash treatments use an all-natural saline solution to cleanse the inner nose, calming irritated nasal passages and relieving nasal congestion to improve breathing. It works by rinsing mucus out of the nose and sinuses, thereby treating the root problem and not just the symptoms of sinus disease. Nasal washes can be used daily to improve nasal function, or only when necessary for acute symptoms.

Chronic sinus and allergy problems will not go away on their own. Like back pain or weight control, sinus problems must be managed over time. Doctors who recommend the treatment say that washing the nose should be a regular part of one's daily regimen - like brushing teeth. Research has shown that a simple saline solution of water, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and sodium chloride (pure salt) actually improves the cellular function of the nasal lining and will speed up the transport of mucus through the nose. The solution does not damage the delicate nasal lining.

A study done at the University of Wisconsin found that nasal washing provides a simple drug-free treatment for sinus infections and other sinus ailments. Participants who added a nasal wash treatment to their daily regimen showed decreased nasal symptoms, decreased medication use and overall improved health over the six-month period of the study.The findings of this and other studies show that nasal washing improves sinus health. Physicians and patients are tiring of prescription drugs, finding that side-effects are too severe. According to a 2002 study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of antibiotics prescribed for children fell by 40 percent between 1990 and 2000. The Journal of the American Medical Association found that the overuse of common antibiotics is increasing bacterial resistance to these antibiotics. In addition, JAMA reported in February 2004 that antibiotic use may correlate with the risk of breast cancer.

This has created an enormous demand for products that safely and effectively ease sinus and allergy symptoms. Drug-free nasal washes can be used by people who only have symptoms once in a while or by people who have symptoms every day. Symptoms triggered by allergies, dry air, environmental pollution or the common cold can all be improved. The treatment is ideal for children as well as adults, and pregnant or nursing women suffering from nasal congestion can use the nasal wash to relieve their symptoms naturally without worrying about putting harmful drugs into their bodies.

Further proof that this type of treatment is gaining mainstream appeal comes as Walgreens recently created a new nasal wash category in all of its 4,227 store locations nationwide. In this era of increasing bacterial resistance to antibiotics worldwide, the use of alternative treatments for common ailments like springtime allergies and sinonasal disease can make a dramatic impact. The nasal wash is one example that shows us how ancient wisdom can translate into western medicine, and work to improve the health of us all.

Diane G. Heatley, M.D., developed the SinuCleanse nasal wash system to treat patients of her pediatric otolaryngology practice in Madison, Wisconsin. The SinuCleanse nasal wash system can be found at Walgreens stores as well as other fine pharmacies, select doctor's offices and online at http://www.sinucleanse.com.