by: Hana R solomon, MD
From the air filter in your car to the lint filter in your clothes dryer, one thing is certain: If they are not clean, they just do not work. Thatâ€™s the common wisdom behind nasal cleansing.
The nose is the bodyâ€™s filter and is an effective and an effective filtering system is an important part of the body's immune defense system. The nasal cavity is lined with a membrane, which is covered by microscopic filaments called cilia. These help remove or filter the impurities we breathe. In addition, our modern world is filled with an abundance of these impurities, such as pollen, mold, dust, viruses, bacteria, smoke, pollution and chemicals.
As a practicing physician for 20 years, I evaluate and treat nose woes caused by inhaled irritants.
Exposure to irritants causes the cilia in the nasal passages to malfunction. The body responds by increasing the amount and thickness of the mucus, making it difficult to remove. The nasal membranes also become swollen. Because this drainage system becomes plugged, people end up with such maladies as congestion, post nasal drip, cough, sore throat, sinus pressure and ear complaints. Regardless of the initial cause of the problem, bacteria thrive in this environment, and sooner or later infection can set in.
Unfortunately, because of our worldâ€™s high exposure to dust and pollution, this filtering mechanism often becomes overloaded. Regular cleansing of the nasal passages allows efficient filtering. I recommend regular nasal washing to maintain quality of life and decrease drugs and doctor visits.
Practitioners of yoga have used nasal cleansing, known as â€œneti,â€ for hundreds of years.
The neti pot is the original vessel used but there are many delivery systems available such as the syringe, squeeze bottle and Nasopure. The overall goal is to have a flow of warm saline water inserted into one nostril and exit the opposite one. This procedure is then alternated with the other nostril. The position of the head and neck varies with the system used. The water drains out, flushing the nasal passages and the linings thoroughly.
The jala neti offers a gravity controlled flow while others offer more control of pressure and flow. The process rinses out the dirt- and bacteria-filled mucus lining as the warm water loosens and dissolves any internal buildups and takes them outwards. If the solution pressure and flow is well controlled, like that found in Nasopure, it sucks out the mucus from the sinus cavities, flushing them clean.
Proponents claim that jala Neti has numerous benefits, including reduction of allergy problems, improved breathing, and elimination of post-nasal drip, sinusitis and chronic sinus infections. In addition, the common cold is avoided or the duration greatly shortened. Others have experienced an improved sense of smell and taste and deeper, more relaxed breathing.
There is more evidence each day that asthma is best controlled when the nose is maintained clean and well functioning with multiple studies to prove this point.
With as many as 40 million Americans fighting sinusitis and tiring of antibiotics, antihistamines and decongestants, water irrigation is the natural alternative. It is no surprise that with the assault of chemicals, fragrances, pollution, dust and pollen that our nostrils are under enormous stress. Even todayâ€™s modern diet tends to favor foods that increase the body's production of mucus, thereby creating an imbalance and clogging up the nasal passages and sinuses.
There are many nasal wash products available, and they can be found at drugstores, health food stores or on the Internet. They come in a variety of materials ranging from durable plastic, stainless steel or lead-free ceramic. My patented nasal wash system, Dr Hanaâ€™s Nasopure includes 9 weeks of pre-measured packets of hypertonic-buffered salt. First developed for my pediatric patients, Nasopure is an effective and modern approach of nasal cleansing.
Washing hands makes sense, brushing teeth makes sense and nasal washing makes sense too!
Hana R. Solomon MD
May 4, 2006
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