Cystic fibrosis patients are prone to nasal congestion, which can inflame the upper respiratory tract and lead to sinus infections. One of the ways to help keep the sticky mucus from staying trapped in the sinuses is to gently flush them with a saline solution. Such rinses are effective in reducing the inflammation and clearing the symptoms of allergies or rhinitis.
Commercially available sinus rinses and saline sprays are available in different concentrations of salinity. Some kits come with the salt water already mixed, while others require you to add a salt packet to warm water that you put into specifically designed container such as a squeeze bottle.
To make your own saline rinse, you can follow this easy recipe:
½ teaspoon of sea salt or kosher salt
1 cup of warm water (or room temperature will do)
½ teaspoon of baking soda
Combine all ingredients in a cup or bowl. Using a bulb syringe, draw the salt water into the bulb.
Proper administration of a saline flush is necessary in order to reap its benefits. A thorough flushing can be a messy process, so it’s best to lean over the bathroom sink or shower when rinsing with it. Start by tilting your head down toward the bowl of the sink. Leave your mouth open. With the filled bulb syringe (or squirt bottle that came in the kit) squeeze firmly into one nostril. The water should flow out the other nostril. If your sinuses are quite congested, some water may flow down the back of your throat and out your mouth. This is normal. Continue rinsing with the other nostril.
Follow up the procedure by gargling with water. This will keep the salt from irritating your throat and causing a cough reflex.
A more aggressive way to flush congested sinuses is to run the saline mixture through a Water-Pik. Don’t use the attachment as is; cut it back about an inch so that the pressure of the water coming out is reduced. This method is quite effective for dislodging stubborn mucus that lingers following a sinus infection. Water-Pik now makes a nasal flush attachment tip that makes flushing your sinuses even easier.
Hypertonic saline is useful in stimulating the linings of the nasal passages to produce some moisture of their own. This helps give the mucus a more slippery surface to slide across, making it easier to clear out any congestion. Hypertonic saline is a saltier concoction and therefore may sting sensitive sinuses. It’s best to slowly increase the salinity (saltiness) of the rinse solution by adding gradually more salt.
CF Patient Preferred Sinus Rinse Products
- Breathe Ease