To evaluate the effectiveness of these two common treatments, researchers at the University of Southampton in England followed 871 patients who had a history of chronic or recurrent sinusitis. Participants were assigned one of four treatments: daily nasal irrigation with saline plus use of an instructional video; daily steam inhalation; a combination of both; or their usual treatment. Usual care was at the discretion of the patient's physician and could include the use of antibiotic medications. Participants in the nasal irrigation group were given a neti pot, and were asked to irrigate their nose daily with about 5 ounces of saline solution in each nostril. The solution was made of 1 teaspoon salt and a half teaspoon of baking soda combined in 1 pint of water. The steam treatment group was asked to inhale steam for five minutes every day. They were directed to place a towel over their head and stand over a bowl of recently boiled water.
Using the Rhinosinusitis Disability Index, researchers evaluated at three and six months and found that patients who used nasal irrigation reported improvement. Those using steam inhalation said headaches had eased, but they appeared to have no congestion relief. The study authors also noted that fewer participants in the nasal irrigation group (compared to no-irrigation patients) took over-the-counter medications, had headaches, or intended to consult a doctor in future episodes. Lead researcher Dr. Little also added that people suffering from sinusitis often get repeated courses of antibiotics, which may not help much and may contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance.
If you suffer from chronic sinus congestion, adding an irrigation routine daily may prove beneficial in helping keep it under control. Also, keeping foods out of the diet that promote inflammation or sensitivity reactions is another way to help decrease the systemic inflammatory responses in the body so that you can lead a congestion-free, comfortable life.