Long-term use of a neti pot to clear stuffy noses may not be a good idea.

A study led by Talal M. Nzouli, MD, of Washington, D.C and presented recently at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Meeting in Miami, followed 68 people who used nasal saline irrigation for 12 months and then discontinued use for another 12 months.

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The results showed that the number of cases of sinusitis decreased by 62.5% during the discontinuation phase. Researchers also compared the rates of sinusitis among those who stopped using nasal saline irrigation and another group of 24 adults who used daily nasal saline irrigation for 12 months. Again, they found sinusitis among daily users was significantly higher (50%) than among nonusers.

The researchers believe that while in the short term, flushing the nose through with saline solution may help to clear congestion,  long term irrigation with saline solution may deplete or damage the blanket of mucus which coats the inside of the nose, acting as a first line of defense against infections, and thus encourage rather than protect against infections.

For more fairly balanced comments on the pros and cons.

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First Published in November 2009

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