Asthma/AllergyNasal IrrigationSaline

Saline irrigation vs saline nasal spray to control nasal symptoms

Nasal irrigation (photo) is a personal hygiene practice where the nasal cavity is flooded with warm saline solution. The goal is to clear out excess mucus and moisturize the nasal cavity.

This study compared this technique to a saline spray in people with chronic nasal and sinus symptoms.

First the details.

  • 127 adults with chronic nasal and sinus symptoms were randomly assigned to one of the following treatments for 8 weeks.
  • Nasal irrigation using with large volume and delivered with low positive pressure
  • Nasal spray
  • Symptom severity was measured using the Sino-Nasal Outcome Test (which goes by the unfortunate acronym: SNOT-20).
  • Also measured was any change in medication use.

And, the results.

  • The irrigation group achieved significantly lower (better) SNOT-20 scores at all time points.
  • 40% of the irrigation group reported symptoms “often or always” at 8 weeks vs 61% in the spray group — a significant difference.
  • There was no difference in sinus medication use between groups.

The bottom line?
Using large volumes of saline solution as an irrigation (not a spray) appears to be better.

Too bad there was no reduction in drug use.

The University of Michigan describes both treatments and how to make and use a nasal solution for irrigation.

12/1/07 20:20 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.