Q. I have chronic sinusitis that flares up into an infection a couple of times each year. Do nasal saline washes really help prevent flares?
A. There's no "cure" for chronic sinusitis, a long-term inflammatory condition that may cause nasal congestion, mucus, facial pain, or a diminished sense of smell. Many people with the condition wind up with flares (acute sinusitis) that require antibiotics and steroid sprays or pills.
allergens from your nose and moisturize your nasal passages. Many over-the-counter pots, squeeze bottles, and syringes are available.
To use these products, gently squirt the saline solution into each side of your nose while you're bending over the sink or standing in the shower. The solution should flow into one nostril and out the other. You may rinse your sinuses as needed--daily, or more than once a day, depending on your symptoms.
You can use a steroid nasal spray year-round or when you anticipate a flare. There are several prescription sprays on the market. Be sure to have a thorough exam by your doctor to look for nasal polyps, a deviated nasal septum, or other underlying--and possibly treatable--causes for your sinus problems.
Also, keep a diary of your symptoms. If something in your environment triggers a flare, removing the allergen or taking an antihistamine may help reduce your episodes of sinusitis. -- Celeste Robb-Nicholson, M.D., Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch