While nose washing has many benefits, it can also be dangerous when done incorrectly. An update on this practice with Dr Guillaume Barucq, general practitioner.
We can certainly never repeat it enough: washing the nose is essential to reduce nasal congestion and prevent infections. However, rinsing carried out in poor conditions can be harmful to your health. Explanations.
Pay attention to the condition of the container and contents
While nasal sprays sold in pharmacies and stores do not present any risks, Rhino Horn and other Neti pots (kinds of plastic or ceramic containers allowing the nose to be cleaned with salt water, editor’s note) require a little more caution.
And for good reason: in 2018, a 69-year-old American woman died after rinsing her nose with a neti pot. Microorganisms, present in the water used, had entered his nasal cavity and then reached his brain.
A rare but real news item, which reminds us of the importance of hygiene rules surrounding nose washing.
“The container used, whether it is the Neti Pot or its commercial version, the Rhino Horn, must be very clean and cleaned. The recommendations for use must, in fact, be followed to the letter“, affirms Dr Guillaume Barucq, who nevertheless wants to be reassuring about the risks of infections. “If, in the United States, some people have already been infected by parasites because of the tap water used, in Europe, the water is much better treated. There are therefore no risks in using it. On the other hand, when traveling, you must ensure the quality of the water, boil it and/or buy bottled water. This water must then be salted with sea salt, which has an antibacterial action. In short, attention should be paid to the condition of the container and contents used.
Nose washing “increases comfort and reduces complications”
Beyond the few risks mentioned above, washing your nose remains a healthy gesture.
“Several studies have proven the effectiveness of nose washing in preventing infections by certain viruses. And for good reason: the vast majority of viruses we catch in winter enter through the nasal passages. Blowing your nose well and cleaning regularly using hypertonic solutions – saltier than physiological serum – is therefore essential. Nose washing helps clear up congestion, increases respiratory comfort and reduces complications because the viral load is lower“, confides Dr. Guillaume Barucq.
What if we don’t know how to go about it?
“Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor, pediatrician or midwife to show you how to perform a nose wash. The most important thing is not to do it halfway: the water that enters must flow through the opposite nostril. For this, the jet must be sufficiently penetrating. This very important health gesture is also valid for children.“.