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Breathing in smoky air? Saline irrigations can help.

Posted on Sep. 14, 2020 ( comments)

According to news reports, the smoke from our state’s wildfires may be here to stay for a few more days. Even when it is gone, we may be forced to deal with air pollution from wildfires on an annual basis for years to come. There is a lot of talk in the media about the benefits of filters such as particulate-filtering respirator masks, air purifiers and HEPA filters to protect us from the pollution. But don’t forget about the one filter that we all have access to and use every day: our nose.

The nose is the body’s first line of defense against particulate pollutants and allergens in the air. Hair in the nose can trap large particulates and mucous, and microscopic hairs, called cilia, trap smaller particles in the air and remove them from the air that we breath. However, when particulate air pollution levels rise the nose may not be able to keep up with the volume of foreign matter being taken in. The good news is that there are some simple at-home remedies that can help, such as a natural nasal rinse or saline irrigation. Saline irrigation is commonly used for nasal allergies and can help the nose by removing mucous, pollutants and particulate matter and thereby helping to normalize its filtration function. This natural nasal rinse can reduce congestion and improve symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and dry nasal passages.

While exercising caution by staying indoors and using external filtration are always recommended when the pollution scale shows unhealthy particulate levels, doing a nasal saline irrigation once or twice daily can be extremely beneficial. Click the video link below and hear MultiCare ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician Sepehr Oliaei, MD, explain how to properly flush the sinuses using a squeeze bottle or neti pot filled with water and salt.

About The Author

Oliaei_Sepehr Sepehr Oliaei, MD

Sepehr Oliaei, MD, is an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist) at MultiCare ENT, Sinus & Allergy Specialists - Tacoma. To schedule an appointment or evaluation, call 253-403-0065.

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