If you suffer from chronic nasal congestion, inhaling steam won’t bring you nearly as much relief as a Neti pot will. Lead study author Dr. Paul Little said, “People with chronic and recurrent sinusitis have poor quality of life, similar to having a major chronic disease. 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.”
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal cavities, which could be caused by a virus, bacteria, allergy, fungus, or even an autoimmune reaction.
Treatment methods for nasal congestion usually involve steam inhalation or nasal irrigation with a saline solution administered through a Neti pot. You put one side of the Neti pot into one nostril and tilt your head, allowing the solution to run through the nasal cavities and come out through the other nostril.
To compare the effectiveness of either treatment, researchers recruited 871 patients with a history of chronic or recurrent sinusitis. Participants received one of the four treatment options: daily nasal irrigation with saline plus use of an instructional video, daily steam inhalation, a combination of both, or their usual treatment.
Results were measured against the Rhinosinusitis Disability Index, a questionnaire used to evaluate nasal congestion and related problems such as throat pain and headaches.
The researchers conducted follow-ups at three and six months. Patients who used nasal irrigation reported improvements on both occasions. Those who used steamed inhalation reported a reduction in headaches, but congestion relief did not take place.
Dr. Len Horovitz, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital, said, “Nasal irrigation is foundational in sinus care. Saline solution can be easily mixed and utilized with a Neti pot or other irrigation device. Simple saline mists only moisturize, and steam can cause swelling of membranes. Heat provokes swelling, so that can be harmful.”
Those in the nasal irrigation group were less likely to use over-the-counter medications, experience headaches, or had to consult a doctor.
Little suggests using natural remedies for sinusitis is crucial, as taking antibiotics could contribute to the growing antibiotic resistance trend, which is currently taking place.
The CDC offers additional tips for the Neti pot use. Make sure you clean the device thoroughly each time after use and opt for distilled or filtered water for your solution.
Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article: Sinus infection can cause clogged ears, ear pain and temporary hearing loss.