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Try these tips for warding off sinus troubles this winter on Astini News

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A nose bidet, more commonly referred to as a neti pot, gently cleanses the nasal cavity and eases the symptoms of sinus sufferers. | PRNewsFoto)

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Tips for staying well

Dr. James Chow of Midwest ENT Consultants offers these tips to ward of illness:

Try using decongestants to open up your nasal passages and to allow your sinuses to drain. Nasal irrigation with sterile saline, like with a neti pot, can eliminate mucus build-up and potential pathogens or allergens, helping to restore normal nasal and sinus function.

Be aware of your indoor environment and the allergens inside the home — consider investing in a humidifier to prevent mold or a HEPA filter to catch dust particles that can trigger allergies.

Make it a habit to wash your hands more frequently to get rid of excess bacteria and germs.

Make sure to get plenty of sleep and maintain a healthy diet. Drink fluids throughout the day, and if you feel the onset of sickness, increase your amount of water intake.

If your symptoms don't begin to improve after five to six days, visit your ENT physician for further treatment as it might be the start of a sinus infection.

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Updated: February 20, 2012 4:36PM

When Christine Drechsler's son had chronic sinus infections, she looked for a natural remedy to resolve the condition. The Naperville mom found the answer in a sinus rinse — or saline nasal irrigation — and now uses it regularly with all four of her children.

"This product safely and easily washes out your sinus cavity, clearing out the mucus and gunk that can cause secondary infections," Drechsler said. "It has helped to measurably reduce the number of colds and upper respiratory infections in our household."

Dr. James Chow, of Midwest ENT Consultants, said sinus problems tend to be more common in the winter and early spring months for several reasons. As the cold air dries out the sinuses, it leads to thicker mucus, making it difficult to clear the nasal passages. This is an ideal environment for bacteria growth, which may result in sinus headaches, a runny nose, sore throat or coughing episodes.

Chow recommends using decongestants to open up the nasal passages and to allow the sinuses to drain. Also, nasal irrigation with sterile saline — like a neti pot device — can eliminate mucus build-up, and help restore normal nasal and sinus function.

There are several methods of nasal irrigation, but most are familiar with the neti pot after Oprah and Dr. Oz made it a household name. Resembling a tea pot with an elongated spout, it's a container designed to rinse the nasal cavity and relieve congestion.

Drechsler said initially children may balk at the idea of using a nasal wash, but after they see it in action, they may have a change of heart.

"If you try it yourself first — and explain what to expect and let them see how easy it is, pretty soon they will be asking you for one when they are getting clogged up with a cold," the mom said. "This is a natural, nondrug remedy. I recommend it often."

Recently the neti pot came under fire after its use was linked to two deadly infections in Louisiana. The reports indicated people used tap water during the irrigation, which introduced bacteria into the sinuses.

Dr. Chow said, when used properly, the neti pot is a safe and effective tool for treating congestion.

"A potential risk exists of introducing an infection into the nasal cavity or sinuses if the neti pot or irrigation solution is contaminated with organisms," the doctor said.

Chow said it is important to follow the manufacturer's directions, and thoroughly clean the neti pot and let it air dry after each use.

"A common misconception is using regular tap water for irrigation," he said. "One should use sterile, distilled or boiled water, making sure you wait for the water to cool prior to using the boiled water.

"For those individuals who use it regularly, I recommend rinsing it out with alcohol once a week. I also recommend using packets that are commercially available to prepare the irrigation solution, rather than using at-home remedies due to the potential for contamination of the irrigation solution."

And when it comes to staying healthy this winter season, soap and water should top the list of things to use.

"The No. 1 thing that people can do is wash their hands frequently after contact with others and especially prior to eating or touching their nose," Chow said. "Drinking fluids and getting adequate rest are also important."

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