Posted by: Ticktock | November 10, 2009

Buy This – Don’t Buy That

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My wife is an employee for local government, and thus, she brings home all kinds of tips and gossip from the flamers over at the Fire Department. “Team Fire” has been getting all hot and bothered about a new type of smoke alarm that has a special photoreceptor that can also detect smoldering flames (and not shower steam).  Word is that these smoke alarms will detect a fire 15 minutes faster than the average alarm. That’s pretty fast.  We chose First Alert – hope it never comes in handy.

neti_pot.jpg picture by glowdarkMany moons ago, I wrote that ‘Neti Pots’ are surprisingly useful for draining sinuses. I was, of course, skeptical of sticking the spout of a miniature teapot up my nose, but I vowed to stop teasing my wife about it. Well, word is out that ‘Neti Pots’ may be worse for your sinuses in the long run.

A new study followed a group who used daily nasal irrigation for a year and then abruptly stopped. The year without nasal irrigation showed a 65% decrease in sinus problems compared to the previous year. As an anecdote, I can say that this news does not surprise our household.

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Responses

  1. In a segment on Scientific American Frontiers, scientists who are trying to give subjects a cold actually perform a saline nasal wash first because it increases the chances that the subject will contract the virus (presumably by washing out the body’s natural flora).

    You can watch the segment here (it’s the fourth clip: Snuffing the Sniffles): http://www.pbs.org/saf/1307/video/watchonline.htm

  2. Also, if you want to laugh at a jackass being… Well, just that, check out this video of said jackass rinsing out his sinuses using a neti pot using things he probably shouldn’t (coffee and bourbon).

  3. Just to be sure, was there a typo in this statement:
    “The year without nasal irrigation showed a 65% decrease in sinus problems compared to the previous year. “?

    Did you mean a 65% INCREASE in sinus problems?

    Or am I missing something?

    Because, oh lordy, would I love to throw this stat at my mother who keeps insisting I use the TWO (!?!) pots she’s bought me.

    • No, I definitely meant decrease, meaning that NOT using the neti pots relieved sinus problems. So, feel free to throw that study at your mother. Of course, you might not want to poke the beehive this close to the holidays.

  4. OH! Just read the original study (sorry, I should have done so before commenting). NOW I get it…

  5. I don’t know who would rinse their sinuses on a daily basis. No wonder they felt better after they stopped! Me and my buddies use it on special occasions.

    1. When sinuses are so clogged you need to clean them so you can breath. In this case, clearing the sinus can actually help prevent an infection from setting up.I know this from a lifelong allergy problem. I had to have my tonsils removed when I was 22 years old due to chronic infection. Infection would come after a particularly harsh allergy period when my nose was running constantly and my sinuses were horribly clogged. Normal phlegm is good. An over abundance over an extended period of time can cause problems.

    2. Surfing right after the first rain or when the red tide is particularly bad. I use a bit of salt and some xylitol.

    This is how your supposed to do it. It’s kind of for emergencies. I also just pour the water in my hand and snort it in and spit it out my mouth.

  6. I agree with SDD. Nasal lavage is helpful on special occasions. It can be profoundly useful for preventing or fighting an infection when your brain feels like it’s exploding. For those of us with chronic or repetitious sinus issues, it can make a world of difference. It was the only thing that helped me battle this absurd fluffy white tree one summer in Vermont. Horrible awful thing.

    But, anyone dumb enough to use it regularly to introduce foreign substances into an otherwise healthy sinus environment is itching for trouble.

    Also, the tea-pot shaped doodle is ridiculous. I use a squeezy bottle. I can open it completely and put it in the dishwasher, and, you know, sterilize it.

  7. OK, this is interesting — I’m listening to Skepticality episode 116 (http://www.skepticality.com/) where Swoopy interviews Dr. William Meller. Starting at about 49:00 of the episode…

    Dr. Meller: (regarding relief for congestion/sinus infections) “Nowadays we’re also recommending that people use a Neti Pot…”

    Swoopy: “I started doing that, ’cause I was recommended to have sinus surgery, and I didn’t want to do it, and so I started irrigating my sinuses – I used a turkey baster with a little salt water – it’s so awesome, I feel so great when I do it – I do it a couple times a month at least.”

    Dr. Meller: “We were all very skeptical because this came out of the yoga tradition in India, but about 5 or 6 years ago some scientists in Sweden got together and they actually did a controlled clinical trial of using nasal gravity irrigation and they found that sinus infection duration was decreased in half, and the frequency of people who had chronic sinus infections, that decreased in half, so that’s an enormous impact for pouring a little salt water up your nose. No drugs.”

  8. Harriet Hall also recently gave her conditional approval of neti pots over at science-based medicine.

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=2841

    My original article on neti pots, linked above, also had a positive slant.

    Maybe I should change this article to “buy this – maybe buy that”. 🙂

    • I think the difference is that the study you mentioned was people using it EVERY DAY, whether they had any issues or not. Swoopy’s anecdote is much less frequent use, only as needed, too. Obviously that could make a big difference.

      Maybe the next time I’m swimming in the ocean, I should let a little bit get in my nose!


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