Neti Pot beats steam for sinus congestion relief

July 20, 2016

By Don Rauf, HealthDay News   |   July 18, 2016 at 3:24 PM

MONDAY, July 18, 2016 — Inhaling steam probably won’t open your chronically clogged sinuses. But nasal irrigation may bring some relief, a new study finds.

“People with chronic and recurrent sinusitis have poor quality of life, similar to having a major chronic disease,” said lead study author Dr. Paul Little, professor of primary care research at the University of Southampton in England.

“It is very nice to be able to provide something really simple that empowers people to manage this problem, helps them with their symptoms, reduces the need to take over-the-counter medications, and makes them less likely to want to see the doctor in future attacks,” he said.

More than 29 million American adults were diagnosed with sinusitis in 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal cavities often caused by a virus, allergy, bacteria, fungus, or possibly an autoimmune reaction.

For those with chronic sinusitis, doctors often recommend steam inhalation or nasal irrigation — rinsing the sinuses with a saline (salt-based) solution.

To evaluate the effectiveness of these two common treatments, Little and his team followed 871 patients in England who had a history of chronic or recurrent sinusitis. Participants were assigned one of four treatments: daily nasal irrigation with saline plus use of an instructional video; daily steam inhalation; a combination of both; or their usual treatment. Usual care was at the discretion of the patient’s physician and could include the use of antibiotic medications.

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