Long-Term Neti Pot Use May Backfire
Daily Nasal Saline Irrigation May Encourage Sinus Infections
Nov. 9, 2009 -- Long-term use of a neti pot to clear stuffy noses and
blocked nasal passages may actually encourage more sinus problems rather than keep
A new study shows people who used nasal saline irrigation for a year and
then discontinued use the following year had 62% fewer cases of sinusitis in the year that they
didn't use the device.
Neti pots have become increasingly popular in recent years for the treatment
of sinus infections and other forms of sinus disease. The pots deliver a stream
of sterile saline solution to the nasal passages to loosen and clear nasal
Researchers say despite the common use of nasal saline irrigation to treat
sinusitis, there has been little scientific research to confirm its
effectiveness. Sinusitis is an inflammation or infection of the sinuses and
nasal passages that can cause headache or pressure in the eyes, nose, and cheek area as
well as nasal congestion, cough, and fever.
The study, presented this week 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
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
Researchers say nasal mucus acts as a first line of defense against
infections, and long-term nasal saline irrigation may interfere with this
natural immune function.
Although use of a neti pot for nasal saline irrigation may temporarily
improve sinus infection symptoms, they say "its daily long-term use may result
in an increased frequency of acute [sinusitis] by potentially depleting the
nose of its immune blanket of mucus," write researcher Talal M. Nzouli, MD, of
Washington, D.C., and colleagues in their study.