What is the difference between Nasal Saline, Nasal Moisturizers, and Nasal Irrigation?

Variety of sinus preparations

The membranes of the inside of the nasal passages typically need to stay wet for them to maintain normal function. This layer of mucus can lubricate the nose, allowing for less friction of air as we breathed in. It can also protect against any bacterial growth and resultant sinus infections. Nasal mucus also maintains healthy membranes and prevents them from excessive bleeding.

Many conditions can lead to dry nasal passages. The dry air of the wintertime, coupled with dry heating elements in-doors, can lead to excessive dryness and irritation of the nasal membranes. Various antihistamines that are usually taking for allergy symptoms can also lead to additional dryness in the membranes.

Much has been said about irrigating the nasal passages on a regular basis. Even Oprah most recently recommended using nasal irrigation with a neti pot device.

There are a few different methods of keeping the nose moist and clean. However, people often confuse which type of saline or other product, coupled with which kind of application device, would be optimal for each condition.

Nasal Salines: Over-the-counter nasal saline sprays can be found by manufacturers called Ayr and Ocean. The ingredients are usually salt and water only. The preparation is usually optimized for concentration and for pH balance to soothe the nasal passages. These preparations are water based only, and the only purpose is to keep the nasal passages wet. It is important to note that these preparations do not moisturize the membranes, but again only keep it wet. These are recommended to be used for when the nasal passages dry up and the patient needs to get immediate relief from the chapped feeling of the nasal passages.

Nasal Moisturizers: There are other preparations that can be obtained over the counter, such as NasoGel and Rhinaris, that are designed to moisturize the nasal passages as well as keeping it wet. This is more of a long-term treatment plan in optimizing the nasal membranes. It is recommended for patients to use this kind of preparation on a regular basis during the dry months of the winter to keep the nose not only wet, but also moist.

Nasal Irrigation: The last category of nasal preparations is the nasal irrigation systems. Neti pot, nasal irrigation pump, or various battery-operated devices have been devised that allow for irrigation. Technically, the purpose of irrigation is to wash away any kind of excess mucus, crusts, or bacterial debris from the inside of the nasal passages. The purpose of irrigation is not simply to keep the nose wet, but to remove mucus and other secretions from the inside of the nasal passages.

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