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You Want Me To Put Seawater In My <em>What?</em>

11/27/2013 04:50 EST | Updated 12/02/2013 11:52 EST
Glow Wellness via Getty Images

Is everything old new again? Much like how traditional ancient grains are now a “new” healthy staple hordes of people are incorporating into their diet, the age-old practice of saline nasal rinsing is gaining popularity, too. How will seawater help you, and how will you choose the right option? Look no further!

You Want Me To Put Seawater In My What?

Seawater’s nasal benefits

While most of us grew up with conventional medicated nasal sprays, natural sea water -- yes, sea water -- is now making an appearance as an ingredient in nasal rinses. This naturopathic practice helps flush out excess mucus from the nose and sinuses. The rinse also boosts the health of your cilia -- the small structures in your nose that resemble hair that help humidify the air before it enters your lungs and prevents bacteria from entering cells. Healthy cilia are important, too, because they play a role in your sense of smell.

Who could benefit from a saline nasal rinse

Everyone can benefit from rinsing their nasal passages to help clear them of mucus and debris and keep the passages moist. Allergy sufferers will find that it provides some relief and with cold and flu season upon us, a rinse can work as a method to ease your congestion. For those who prefer natural remedies, saline rinses are a great alternative to medicines. Isotonic saline rinses do help to loosen and clear out mucus from the nose, not through the use of medicinal or therapeutic ingredients, but through the use of liquid pressure, making it more suitable for everyday use.

Isotonic vs. hypertonic

This choice depends entirely on the severity of your symptoms. An isotonic solution is a rinse that contains a similar salt content balance to the one found naturally in your body’s fluids. By using an isotonic solution, you can help restore your body’s natural balance as you clear your nasal passages. An isotonic solution is ideal for every day cleansing.

On the other hand, a hypertonic solution contains a much higher salt content than what occurs naturally in your body -- the higher concentration of salt draws moisture out of your swollen nasal membranes and reduces nasal congestion. A hypertonic solution is best for more severe symptoms, but not ideal for mild symptoms/everyday use.

How to choose the stream that’s right for you

Saline nasal rinses are available in a variety of streams. Those new or squeamish about the idea of a nasal rinse may want to opt for a gentle stream, which is designed for daily use to help keep your nose clear so you can breathe easy. If you are somewhat congested, however, you will want to opt for a moderate (or stronger) stream product to help clear your nose that’s congested by cold or allergies.

Over-the-counter nasal sprays vs. DIY solutions

While you can safely prepare a saline nasal rinse at home using distilled or sterile water (this is critical -- using tap water for your DIY saline rinse can be dangerous due to the bacteria that may be present in unboiled tap water), there are a number of ready-made nasal rinses on the market that make the task a simple, painless experience -- no boiling water required.