For the study, 68 people irrigated at least twice a day for one year, then discontinued the practice and were followed for the next year.
The rate of sinus infections decreased 62 percent once irrigation was stopped, the study found.
"People who were using nasal sinus irrigation were having an average of eight sinus infections a year," said Nsouli. "They dropped to three per year." Nsouli is a clinical professor of pediatrics and allergy/immunology at Georgetown University School of Medicine and director of Watergate & Burke Allergy & Asthma Centers, in Washington D.C.
"The nasal secretions do contain immune elements that protect patients against infection," he explained. "Our first-line protection is the mucus that we have."
"Our recommendation is that patients should not use nasal saline on regular basis, only when they have an infection," Nsouli said. "Long-term use was harmful and not helpful at all, and depleting the nose of its immune elements caused infections to occur on chronic basis."
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more on sinusitis.
SOURCES: Talal Nsouli, M.D., clinical professor, pediatrics and allergy, immunology, Georgetown University School of Medicine, and director, Watergate & Burke Allergy & Asthma Centers, Washington D.C.; Jordan S. Josephson, sinus specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Michael J. Bergstein, M.D., senior attending physician, Northern Westchester Hospital Center, Mt. Kisco, N.Y., and assistant clinical professor, otolaryngology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City; Nov. 8, 2009, presentation, American Colleg
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