Every year as allergy season arrives, people who suffer from allergies look for solutions. Antihistamines such as cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra), levocetirizine (Xyzal) or loratadine (Claritin) are one option. A person who uses a medicine like cetirizine for a long period of time may experience itching if he or she stops taking the drug suddenly, however. Decongestant nasal sprays can lead to rebound congestion. Some readers have found less well-known approaches can help their allergies, however. One individual is enthusiastic about Xlear Nasal Spray.

Does Xlear Help Allergies?

Q. Texas cedar fever has been horrible this year. When I had my teeth cleaned, I was suffering from a cough. The hygienist suggested Xlear Nasal Spray morning and night. She said clearing the pollen from the nasal passages would help the cough.

It felt great to clear my sinuses. She was right–no more cough! This nasal spray is not habit-forming. It contains xylitol, saline and grapefruit extract.

A. The small amount of research we found on xylitol nasal spray (Xlear) indicates that it is helpful for nasal congestion (Cingi et al, International Forum of Allergy and Rhinology, June 2014). Doctors report that irrigating the sinuses with xylitol solution reduced the inflammation of chronic sinusitis (Lin et al, American Journal of Otolaryngology, Jul-Aug. 2017).

Neti Pot for Allergies:

Not everyone uses Xlear nasal spray. Some people also find a plain saline nasal spray or neti pot is helpful in cleaning pollen from the nasal passages. We have heard from several readers that they’ve had success with this approach.

Q. My friend, my daughter-in-law and I have been able to stop all our prescription nasal sprays and inhalers for sinus problems and allergies since using a neti pot daily! I get bronchitis easily, but I have been cough-free for two months since I began rinsing my sinuses nightly with a mixture of one cup of warm water and 1/4 teaspoon of plain salt.

A. The neti pot looks a bit like an Aladdin’s lamp. It is a traditional technology for nasal irrigation to cleanse the nasal passages and sinuses. Ayurvedic medicine has used neti pots for regular nasal cleansing for hundreds of years.

In using a neti pot, the head is tipped forward and slightly to the side so that water can be poured into one nostril and allowed to run out the other. Nasal irrigation may also be accomplished with spray equipment from the drugstore. A small study in the Wisconsin Medical Journal (April 2008) suggests that many people with chronic sinus symptoms get benefit from daily nasal irrigation.

Sara S. shared her success:

“I used a nasal aspirator at first, but the force of the wash when you squeeze the bulb can be painful. I bought a neti pot about 5 years ago and the design ensures a gentle flow through the sinuses instead of the sensation one can get jumping into water without holding your nose. Ouch!

“I have learned to roll my head round somewhat for each side to get more sinus area. Friends and family I admit were all grossed out when I described the process, but those who have tried it, including a dear friend and fellow choir member who suffers from terrible allergies, agree that it does work very well, and is effective at warding off, as well as treating, misery when used routinely.

“I use neti salt, now, but began with table salt. Neti salt is finer and dissolves better.”

Sally agreed:

“I have been using a neti pot for over a year and I haven’t had any sinus infections or colds. I had been having at least 2 good sinus infections a year. Hurrah for the neti pot.”

Jay also recommends the neti pot:

“I highly recommend neti pots for anyone who suffers from sinus problems. With a history of sinus infections, I use my neti pot most often when recovering from a cold to prevent the onset of infection.

“I also have seasonal allergies (spring and fall) and find that sinus cleansing can make a huge difference in my reaction after doing yard work if used in the first few minutes after being outside.

“Though they may seem odd, they work! It may take you a few tries to get used to the process, but it’s well worth the effort!”

DP recalls: 

“35 years ago when my 4 sons were all under 6, I had sinus infections one after another. My old pharmacist took pity on me and sold me a “nasal douche”. It looked like a little glass, floating duck. He gave instructions on how to use it with saline.

“I did this faithfully for years, anytime I had a sinus headache, or could tell my sinuses were blocked. I stopped having the usual ensuing infections. I rarely irrigate them now (once a year?) and haven’t had a sinus headache in years.

“How wonderful when knowledgeable people pass on wisdom to others so we don’t have to suffer along at the hands of uneducated “modern”, narrow field medicine men. Pharmacists are the best!”

Some people wash out their sinuses with other equipment rather than a neti pot. 

Eleanor K said:

“I was first introduced to sinus rinse at Duke ENT where I was being treated for my many sinus infections which occurred about four times a year and were treated with antibiotics. They gave me a tube and saline from the drug store to rinse regularly. They also added an antibiotic from time to time to the saline solution when the infection flared. Since using it, I have no more infections and few colds.”

Victoria uses a popular OTC product to good effect:

“Thank goodness for the lady in Walgreens who pointed out the NeilMed Sinus Rinse product so I no longer need an antihistamine nasal spray. The most amazing result is – I’ve stopped snoring and is my husband happy! Only wish my family physician and the ENT doc would have recommended this product! Great results quickly and easily!”

Pollen can also cling to clothes and hair as well as pets. During hay fever season, a nightly shower and shampoo before bed may be helpful. If allergies are troublesome, you could do worse than to try Xlear nose spray.

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