Saline nasal rinses wash mucus out of the nasal passages, keeping them open, says WebMD. Their use can help the nasal cilia function better, thereby reducing the risk of infections spreading into the sinuses. By washing out the mucus, they can reduce postnasal drip. A saline rinse can also moisturize dry, irritated nasal passages, reducing discomfort.
The basic NeilMed nasal rinse kit includes a squeeze bottle and premixed packets of powdered saline solution, says the manufacturer. To use, the powder is poured into the bottle and dissolved in lukewarm water. The nozzle of the bottle is inserted into one nostril and squeezed to send the solution through the nasal passages. It then drains out of the other nostril. The procedure is repeated using the other nostril.
Normally, the nasal cilia transport inhaled irritants through the nasal passages and down the throat into the stomach to be destroyed, says WebMD. However, individuals affected by allergies and infections develop thick mucus that prevents the cilia from functioning effectively. Washing out the mucus restores the ability of the cilia to function. However, chronic long-term daily use of nasal rinses can actually increase the incidence of sinus infections and irritate the nasal passages. Nasal rinses should only be performed daily for one to three weeks.