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Sinus Rinse for Chronic Sinusitis

Easy, Inexpensive, and Effective


Updated June 18, 2010

Millions of dollars are spent annually on both prescription and non-prescription treatment for chronic sinusitis. Fortunately for sniffly, broke sinusitis sufferers, a 2002 study from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine has demonstrated that sinus rinse with an easy and inexpensive mix of salt and water can be just as effective as drug therapies at treating the symptoms of chronic sinusitis.

Researchers recruited 76 people for the study. All participants were over the age of 18 and had histories of chronic sinusitis symptoms: nasal congestion, anterior rhinorrhea (thin watery discharge from the nose), post-nasal drainage (nasal drainage that goes down the back of your throat), headache, facial pain, halitosis (bad breath) or cough.

One group of patients performed nasal irrigation with a hypertonic saline solution (salt water containing at least 65% salt) every day for six months. The other group treated their sinusitis with medication as recommended by their doctors. After six months, the sinus rinse group reported significant improvement in symptoms compared to the control group, as well as decreased use of sinus medication (these include decongestants, antihistamines, pain relievers and nasal sprays) during the study.

The researchers concluded, "Daily hypertonic saline nasal irrigation improves sinus-related quality of life, decreases symptoms, and decreases medication use in patients with frequent sinusitis. Primary care physicians can feel comfortable recommending this therapy."

If you suffer from chronic sinusitis, you might find that sinus rinse helps reduce your symptoms. However, it is not a cure for a bacterial or viral infection, allergies, or other causes of sinusitis. As always, before starting a new course of treatment, be sure to check with your physician, who can tell you if this treatment is right for you.


Rabago D, Zgierska A, Mundt M, Barrett B, Bobula J, Maberry R. Efficacy of daily hypertonic saline nasal irrigation among patients with sinusitis: a randomized controlled trial. J Fam Pract. 2002 Dec;51(12):1049-55.

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