The Asthma Center

Nasal saline irrigation

Nasal saline irrigation is an inexpensive, safe and effective treatment for sinusitis. It also helps relieve symptoms of allergic rhinitis, nonallergic rhinitis, nasal dryness and the common cold. This simple process involves flushing the nose with liquid or aerosolized saline (salt water). Nasal saline irrigation can be valuable in managing flares of sinusitis. It can reduce or even eliminate the need for frequent and/or prolonged courses of antibiotics and other sinus medications. This action decreases adverse reactions to antibiotics and prevents the emergence of difficult to treat antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. Nasal saline irrigation has been used safely in both adults and children. It has no documented serious adverse effects. A recent study confirmed these observations. Individuals with chronic sinusitis using daily saline irrigation had improved symptoms, improved quality of life and decreased medication use including antibiotics.

Nasal saline irrigation works by promoting mucociliary clearance through the removal of mucus, pus, superficial bacteria and viruses and crusted materials. It also moistens the lining of the nose and sinuses and thins mucus. Nasal saline irrigation maximizes the benefit of jointly administered sinus and nasal medications.

Saline solutions for use in nasal sinus irrigation can be purchased in pharmacies. Examples are Ocean® Nasal Spray and Blairex® Broncho Saline® or generic nasal saline. Alternatively saline solutions can be made at home by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of noniodized salt in 8 ounces of sterile distilled water (contains no minerals). The unused portion of the homemade saline can be refrigerated and used for up to 5 days.

Nasal saline can be sprayed in the nose as a mist or sniffed in or squirted in with a bulb syringe. The saline can then exit the nasal passageway or pass through the back of the throat.

Nasal Saline Irrigation Devices

There are many nasal saline irrigation devices currently available for both adults and children. Some of the most popular and effective include:

The SinuCleanse® Complete Sinus Irrigation System
The SinuCleanse® Complete Sinus Irrigation System is a gentle, effective, safe and simple to use method of nasal saline irrigation for adults and children. It was inspired by the “nettie pot.” The nettie pot is a fragile glass or ceramic device shaped like a teapot. It has been used for centuries in India to clean the nasal passages during yoga. The SinuCleanse® System consists of a plastic “nettie pot” and 10 premixed, premeasured packets of ingredients for making the SinuCleanse® Natural Saline Solution. The salt solution contains no additives.

Nasal saline irrigation with the SinuCleanse® System can be performed on a daily or an as needed basis. It is simple to use and comes with detailed instructions.

The SinuCleanse® pot should be cleansed after each use with warm water and gentle detergent. The SinuCleanse® pot is also top rack dishwasher safe. The SinuCleanse® pot is intended for use by one individual. Children and adults unable to blow their noses should not use the SinuCleanse® system. An adult should help children. If you have persistent drainage or blockage, discomfort from nasal irrigations, or nasal bleeding or pain, you should discontinue SinuCleanse® use.

The SinuCleanse® System does not require a prescription. It can be obtained directly from Med-Systems, Inc. at 1-888-547-5492 or

Grossan Hydro Pulse Nasal/Sinus Irrigation System®
The Grossan Hydro Pulse Nasal/Sinus Irrigation System® is a device which uses “pulsating irrigation.” The unit consists of a Grossan sinus irrigator tip attached to a WaterPik oral irrigator. The Grossan tip is a cone shaped silicon nasal adaptor from which the saline irrigation fluid is expelled under pressure in a pulsating flow. This pressure is adjustable by the control knobs on the WaterPik. The irrigation solution can be a homemade saline solution (1/2 teaspoon salt in 8 ounces of distilled water). The solution can also be made by adding a spoonful of “Sinusal” (supplied by Grossan) to the WaterPik receptacle and dissolving with warm water. The Grossan tip is easy to use and is applied alternatively to each nostril. During the irrigation, the head should be slightly bent forward. The fluid is directed into one nostril and drained out the other. The irrigation is done with approximately 500mL of saline solution. The entire process lasts 3 - 4 minutes. Antibiotics or corticosteroid solutions/suspensions can be added to the irrigation fluid when necessary.

Nasal irrigation with the Grossan Hydro Pulse Nasal/Sinus Irrigation System® has been performed for 20 years. It has proven effective and safe for adults and children down to 4 years of age. It can be obtained from pharmacies without a prescription. More information on this product can be found at

Pretz® Solution and Ponaris® Emollient
Pretz® solution is based on Dr. Proetz’s original formulation of 3% glycerin in saline initially developed in the early 1900s. The present day solution also contains Yerba Santa, an additional moisturizer. With the combination of glycerin and Yerba Santa, Pretz® solution is less drying than a standard saline irrigation solution.
Pretz® solution reduces crusting, dryness and congestion. It also lubricates and soothes inflamed tissues. Pretz® solution can be used safely as often as needed with no rebound effect.

The Pretz® products line includes:

  • Pretz® Irrigation: a nasal and sinus irrigation solution in an 8 ounce bottle; it has an angled spout which gets up into the sinuses for maximum benefit;
  • Pretz® Spray: a moisturizing solution in a nasal spray bottle

Pretz® solution is available over the counter in pharmacies. You can find more information on this product at

Ponaris is another over the counter mucosal emollient that can be applied directly to the nose through a nasal dropper or nebulizer. It is made of essential oils of cajeput, eucalyptus and peppermint. These ingredients are prepared in cotton seed oil. It has a soothing and moisturizing effect on dry nasal membranes.