Our nose has several very special tasks. It warms up, moistens, and cleans the air we breathe before it reaches our lungs. When there is nasal obstruction due to mucus or inflammation we are forced to breathe through our mouth. This will then cause cold, unclean, dry air to be sent directly into our unprotected lower airway. If we breathe in this manner for many hours we immediately feel how dry our mouth gets and before long we may develop cough and perhaps even an infection of the lungs.
The inner surface of the nose and throat is coated in by a rug like surface covered with cilia that are continually moving to sweep away and clean anything that should not be there. When we are exposed to air pollution, cigarette smoke, or even cold air our cilia are paralyzed; this reduces our ability to fight off infection and self clean the inner surface of our nose and throat.
How does Saline Nasal Rinse help our health?
Irrigation with salt water increases the number of beats per minute of the cilia in our nose and throat, improving the self cleaning feature of this inner surface.
Washing the nose with salt water also has a direct effect of removing thick mucus and any pro-inflammatory particles from the nose.
When should you use a nasal rinse?
When you return home after being outdoors on bad AQI days you should rinse your nose before going to sleep to remove any particles that may have been caught in your nose in spite of wearing a mask.
If you develop thick mucus due to allergy or infection it is especially important to remove the mucus regularly to avoid bacteria growing in the mucus collection.
Whenever a child is breathing with their mouth due to nasal obstruction with mucus this demands immediate action. We must irrigate their nose with salt water and if they are unable to blow out the mucus, we must suck it out with a suction device such as a suction pear or Nosefrida.
Which kind of nasal rinse is best?
There are many kinds of nasal saline bottles. Studies have shown that the most effective devices are those that irrigate the surface with liquid saline, not just a misty spray. If you choose to use a mist spray you should repeat the spray until the surface is completely wet and you are able to blow out the liquid.
Need more info?
Dr. Dorothy Dexter is a family medicine physician at Beijing United Family Hospital. She has several years of clinical experience, and speaks English and Spanish. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: courtesy of Pixabay
This article originally appeared on page 21 of the beijingkids December 2015 issue. Click here to read the issue for free on Issuu.com. To find out how you can get your own copy, email email@example.com