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Can Nasal Rinse Help Asthma Symptoms

I saw this article the other day and found it very interesting. I've been pretty lax in my nasal rinse frequency lately. But I do know that it helps my nasal allergies and that my asthma is definitely worse when my allergies are worse. I probably should be more diligent!

Does anyone else use nasal rinses? Have you found that it has an effect on your asthma?

“Two thirds of patients with severe asthma also suffer with rhinitis; this can lead to nasal congestion, forcing patients to adopt abnormal breathing patterns such as mouth breathing, which exposes the airways to cold dehumidified air,” said lead author physiotherapist Anita Clarke, of Birmingham Regional Severe Asthma Services. “Nasal irrigation can certainly help reduce nasal symptoms and also reduce asthma symptoms. The ability to 'nose breathe' is an essential part of an efficient breathing pattern, and this study shows the treatment can provide the added benefit of helping people with asthma feel they can breathe more easily.”

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  • Jen

    I use nasal rinses when I start to get nasal/sinus congestion.  My asthma is mild and is generally only triggered with illness.  But…a big illness trigger is post nasal drip.  I have had such bad pnd from sinus congestion that it causes coughing that reminds me of a bad bout of bronchitis.  I have found that if I start early with nasal rinses, I can often knock out whatever sinus junk is trying to take hold.

  • Kathy P

    I did my nasal rinses for several days in a row and noticed things were feeling better. Now that my schedule has gone back to crazy, I've been slacking and I can tell the difference. Sooooo….Guess that means I need to figure out a better way to make sure I do them daily. 

  • Jen

    Kathy – I would do them either before or after brushing my teeth.  

  • K8sMom2002

    I've never been able to do a nasal rinse, if you're talking about the neti pot thing. I tried to after a doctor suggested it, but I could NOT get past the drowning sensation. 

    In a weird coincidence, I never had any sort of nasal or sinus issues until I learned how to swim underwater. 

  • Kathy P

    I used to use a neti pot type, but I've switched to the squeeze bottle type. It's much easier. The key for me is to have my head tucked low enough. I usually do it while in the shower, so I'm not splashing all over the bathroom counter or having to contort my head into the sink! I prep the bottle while I let the shower run to get warm. I make sure I don't leave the bottle in there – I take it out and rinse it out and leave it to dry.

  • Jen

    Kathy – I also used to use a neti pot.  I like the squeeze bottle better.  It is a little easier to get at the right angle.

  • Kathy P

    I use the one. I got the first one as a sample from the allergist. They make a pediatric bottle as well that T used to use.

  • K8sMom2002

    DD uses saline spray, twice a day, as suggested by her allergist and hem/onc. She tried using a nasal irrigation system — basically a nebulizer rigged to irrigate the nose, but we really couldn't see much in the way of improvement for the time it took and the mess it made. 

  • Jen

    I have use the NeilMed bottle too.  The other is just what the store had the last time I bought one.

    Cynthia – If I use it when I first detect the congestion, I have found that I can kinda flush everything out and things generally don't progress, be it to a really stuffy nose, a bad cold or sinus infection.

  • K8sMom2002

    I shall have to get the nerve up to try it again. It sounds like a miracle worker. I usually rely on decongestants at the first sign of any congestion, and that helps. But I'd like to avoid decongestants if I could.

  • Jen

    Decongestants leave me feeling loopy.  The sinus rinse was weird the first handful of times I used it. Now I'm so used to it and look forward to the relief it gives me.

  • K8sMom2002

    You're right on how decongestants make you feel loopy! I will have to remember how they make me feel when I'm hesitating to try a nasal rinse.

  • Kathy P

    The sinus rinse is definitely a very weird feeling when you first try it! And it took me a bit of trying to get the head angle right so it drained out the other side instead of hitting my throat. I have to tilt my head much farther over than I've seen in most demo videos. I feel like I'm hanging it upside down!

  • K8sMom2002

    Hmm … I might need to wait to try that, then. I'm still getting over bouts of vertigo. It's much better, but I don't want to kick off another round at this point. 

  • Jen

    Good call on waiting til the vertigo is better.  Funny thing…dh has a old right now.  Not funny that he has a cold, but….the urgent care doctor suggested sinus rinses.  I picked one up for him on Monday. He had never used one before.  He said he doesn't really feel like it's clearing him out, but that is likely because he's had the congestion for a while.  I find it's most effective if I start using it within a day or so of when I notice the congestion.

  • Brian Cushing

    I use my sinus rinse every day without fail. I use the NeilMed squeeze bottle. I have sinusitis (like many asthmatics do) and keeping my sinuses clear is one important step in my asthma management. I do it once every day when I am well-controlled, and I increase the sinus rinses to two or more times a day when I get a cold or have a flareup. It's a weird sensation when you first start, but after you get used to it it feels great! It really relieves sinus pressure. I follow up the rinse with a shot of nasonex in each nostril. My allergist also recommends adding a drop or two of baby shampoo to the bottle to break down the bacterial films in the sinuses. Baby shampoo is quite benign and won't cause any problems if you don't overdo it. You can get info online about adding baby shampoo and make your own judgment on this. 

    It's important to note that you should NEVER use straight tap water in a nasal rinse! Use boiled or sterilized bottled water only, warmed in the microwave. City water can contain amoebas and other organisms that are not removed during filtration and can set up shop in your sinuses. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Thanks for the tips, Brian — I will talk to my doctor about it. I have some questions about nasal rinses because last night when I was reading the , it said this:

    a study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology in 2009 shows that it may actually be counterproductive when used regularly over the long term. The study showed that patients who used nasal saline irrigation for a year and then stopped using it for a year had a 62% lower incidence of sinusitis during the year in which they stopped.

    The idea behind this finding is that nasal mucus serves a beneficial function, helping to protect the body against infection. "The nasal mucus we have in the nose contains very important immune elements that are the first line of respiratory defense against infections," explains Talal Nsouli, MD, who headed the study.

    Of course, this is an older study, so there may be more recent ones out there. I'll definitely discuss this with my doctor.

    It did list a lot of pros and that it could help you feel less congested. Plus it talked about using safe water. I had no idea that filtration from city systems could leave amoebas and other organisms, though! Wow. I definitely won't use tap water!

  • Brian Cushing

    Thanks for the info. I did see that study; I think that any procedure has its pros and cons. But I had nasal surgery five years ago and my head and neck surgeon recommended rinsing every day at that time. My current allergist also recommends it; in fact, he recommends adding the baby shampoo to the bottle as well. He asks me every time I see him if I've been rinsing every day. So I guess, at least in my case, the benefits outweigh the risks. I do know that I get far fewer colds now and that they don't last as long since I've been rinsing. My sinuses also feel healthy and clear most of the time. Of course, the surgery helped a lot, too! 

  • K8sMom2002

    THAT's why it's great to talk with a doctor about these things, because your doctor knows YOU and what will work. Plus, he's probably seen how his advice has played out with other patients, so he has a "feel" for its effectiveness. 

    I'm not against it — I just need to see what my doc says. I know that my DD's allergist wants her to use saline spray 2x a day, but I make her throw the bottle away if she uses it during a sinus infection or cold. 

  • Kathy P

    Yes, water source is important – so is properly cleaning the bottle/neti pot every time you use it. We have a water filter and I use the water from there.

    I've heard of the baby shampoo thing from a Neil Med rep. They recommend it for cleaning the bottles as well, but I do remember him mentioning about some using it in the rinse. I hadn't looked for it before, but here is a .

    I also found this study where they went head to head with nasal spray vs nasal irrigation:  We use the saline spray as an alternative for T, but that's only when things are really bad up there and he has a lot of congestion.

    A lot of the studies I'm seeing seem to indicate that it's beneficial for those (like me) who suffer from chronic nasal inflammation as it rinse off the irritants that are causing the inflammatory response. There are also ways you can alter the salinity to make it more or less aggressive on clearing out the mucus. My doc gave me instructions on when to use isotonic vs hypertonic solution.

  • Brian Cushing

    I agree; it's certainly best to follow your physician's advice and counsel. I'm only giving you my experiences; you should discuss them with your doc before you change your treatment methods. 

  • Brian Cushing

    Great study, by the way! There is some science to point to now regarding baby shampoo and its efficacy in preventing biofilm buildup in the sinuses. 

  • K8sMom2002

    That's really helpful, Brian — everything I hear gives me hope that I could at least cut down on the use of decongestants.

  • Mandy

    I use the Neil Med bottle as well. I do it everyday for the most part and I haven't had a bad sinus infection in a really long time. The rinses definitely help with pnd that induces coughing for me. I will have to have a look at the info on adding baby shampoo.

  • Kathy P

    I've been trying to be more regular and I can definitely tell a difference on my sniffles and nasal congestion. I need to pick up a new bottle though as they recommend replacing every 3 months and I've had mine for over a year. 

  • Jen

    I'm terrible about replacing those bottles, too.  I seem to lose part of them (aka, ds picks it up and hides it somewhere ) and end up replacing them about once a year.  But…I also don't use it every day.  I only use it when I feel symptoms coming on.

  • Brian Cushing

    Here's what I do: I microwave the empty bottle first for 30 seconds; that's long enough to boil the very small amount of water that's still in the bottle from the last use and kill any bacteria or mold in there. Then I fill it with water that I've prepared ahead of time using filtered water that is then boiled for at least a minute and allowed to cool in a clean closed pitcher. I then heat the filled bottle for 22 seconds in the microwave. I add one packet of saline crystals and one large drop of baby shampoo, shake gently, and then flush. I then put one spray of Nasonex in each nostril. I do this twice a day. I've been doing this for many years and my sinuses feel pretty good most of the time. It also helps in clearing out head colds (at least the symptoms of them) more quickly. 

    You might run this past your doc and see what he/she thinks. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Brian, I think it's an excellent idea for a person to talk to their doctor and see how they recommend handling the day-to-day cleaning. I'm sure each doctor has a preferred method. 

    Does your bottle's material say that it's microwave safe?

    Your method reminded me of the , and the usual caution about handling hot liquids. Also, some liquids can get super-heated in the microwave, so that's something to consider.

  • Brian Cushing

    Actually, NeilMed, the premier brand of sinus rinse equipment, does recommend putting the empty bottle and stem in the microwave for 60-90 seconds to disinfect it before use. They also recommend using only previously boiled water or bottled 'purified' or 'distilled' water – NEVER straight tapwater or bottled water labeled 'drinking' water (that stuff is just water run through a taste and odor filter) –  in the solution. FYI

    But again, your doc should be consulted before starting anything like this. I really swear by sinus rinses, though, if you have chronic sinusitis like me. I feel so much better and I get far fewer sinus infections now. It also makes it much easier to control my asthma symptoms. My allergist has always said that my sinuses and my lungs are very closely linked; when the former is dysfunctional, the latter is not far behind!! 

  • Neeci

    Has anyone ever used the Navage sinus irrigator? I see they are rather costly, but I'm thinking about purchasing one.

  • Brian Cushing

    Yeah, I've seen those; I believe it's like a sinus rinse but more sophisticated. No bottle to squeeze and no water spewing into the sink from your head while you use it. Everything gets vacuumed back up into a separate tank and the solution pressure into your sinus is controlled so you can't overdo it (which I've done from time to time with the squeeze bottle).

  • Kathy P

    I have seen that one, but not really looked at it. I watched the demo video, and it looks quite interesting! I've been happy with my "low tech" bottle version. Are you currently using any type of nasal rinse Necci?

    Allergens are bad today, but feeling much less congested after doing my rinse this morning!

  • Neeci

    Hi. Yes I'm using the good old Neti pot. I feel so much better after using it. And it's easy to keep clean and sanitized too. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Hi, and welcome, Neeci! I've looked at the Navage, and there are quite a few videos of first time users on YouTube that show them having a little more trouble than the official videos show. Also, if you have a deviated septum, you may (from what I've seen on the review videos) have more trouble.

    But it looks interesting, doesn't it? I'd love to be able to try it before I actually shelled out $$ for it.

  • Neeci

    Yes, that's a good point….. and I know that it's probably not covered under any type of insurance. Oh well, I think that I'll check out the videos and stick with my neti pot for now��Thanks!!!

  • Jen

    Hi Neeci,

    Welcome to the AAFA forums.

    I may break out my sinus rinse soon.  My throat feels a bit "off"  - kind of like it does with post nasal drip issues.  Then again, it could also be the dry air from the plane and being in Vegas.  I might give it another day or so to hydrate and see if that helps things.

  • K8sMom2002

    @Brian Cushing, just checking in to see how things were going … I have it on my list of questions to ask my doctor about your technique.

  • Brian Cushing

    Thanks for checking on me! I always struggle a bit in the winter to maintain control. I have both asthma and chronic bronchitis (yes, I was a stupid smoker but I've been tobacco-free for over 20 years now) so it's 'double trouble' for me. Around Christmas, I caught a cold that went right to my lungs, and since then I've taken two tapering courses of prednisone and two different antibiotics, but I'm doing well now. My asthma is never fully controlled because I can't tolerate the LABA drugs, so I have to make do with less effective short acting bronchodilators and high dose inhaled steroids. But I am able to lead an active life in spite of my condition(s). I hike, dance, bike, and play golf regularly and I'm 64 years young! 

  • Kathy P

    That's great that you are able to maintain an active life in spite of things. That really is the goal after all, isn't it?

  • K8sMom2002

    @Brian Cushing, have you checked into whether your doctor advises you to get a ? I'm a great believer in that ounce of prevention … 

  • Jen

    With  starting soon (or already starting – I know we have some stuff blooming in MD), has anyone found themselves using nasal rinses more frequently?  

  • Kathy P

    I've been diligent with mine. They were what got me through being off meds for allergy testing. 

  • Jen

    I know lots of people prefer the sinus rinse bottles.  Does anyone prefer the neti pot over the bottle?  If so, why?

  • Brian Cushing

    I just saw a cool product in the drug store. It's a sinus rinse bottle with a built-in filter that's approved (apparently) for use with straight tap water. I normally run my 'nose water' (I know, eeww) through a sediment filter and then boil it for at least a minute and let it cool before using it in my sinus rinse bottle. I'm going on a vacation out of the country and I thought this gadget might help me to avoid using just straight bottled water alone to rinse while I'm away. Has anyone else had experience with this product?