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Nasal rinse ‘could help relieve’ some asthma symptoms

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Simple nasal rinses could help relieve chest and breathlessness symptoms in asthma patients, according to new research presented today at a conference in London.

Researchers noted that nasal rinses were well known to help alleviate some symptoms of allergic conditions such as rhinitis, but suggested they could also help with asthma as well.

“Nasal irrigation can certainly help reduce nasal symptoms and also reduce asthma symptoms”

Anita Clarke

They also noted that many patients with severe asthma also experienced rhinitis. But they said nasal conditions were not always focused on in asthma clinics, though they “shouldn’t be overlooked”.

In the study, 30 patients with severe asthma and rhinosinusitis were taught to rinse their nasal passages with a simple saline rinse kit – initially once or twice a day.

Their symptoms were assessed before starting treatment and again three months later.

The impact of the rinsing was evaluated using patient questionnaires on nasal and chest symptoms and scores from the Asthma Control Questionnaire, which evaluated patient-reported use of bronchodilators, wheeze, night-time breathlessness symptoms and FEV1.

“This is an inexpensive and easy-to-use treatment”

Anita Clarke

After three months, 88% of patients reported improved nasal symptoms and 62% reported improved chest symptoms.

Meanwhile, 69% showed a clinically measured and significant decrease in nasal symptoms and 83% showed clinically significant improved asthma control scores.

Researchers from Birmingham Regional Severe Asthma Services, based at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, presented their results at the British Thoracic Society’s winter meeting in London.

Anita Clarke, a senior physiotherapist who led the research, said: “Our study has shown that nasal irrigation can certainly help reduce nasal symptoms and also reduce asthma symptoms.

Birmingham Regional Severe Asthma Services

Nasal rinse ‘could help relieve’ some asthma symptoms

Anita Clarke

“Two thirds of patients with severe asthma also suffer with rhinitis,” she said. “This can lead to nasal congestion forcing patients to adopt abnormal breathing patterns such as mouth breathing which exposes the airways to cold dehumidified air.

This, along with the abnormal breathing pattern itself, can make asthma symptoms worse,” said Ms Clarke. “Often after the very first nasal rinse patients feel less congested, they can breathe more easily and have an improved sense of smell and taste.

“This is an inexpensive and easy-to-use treatment which can provide instant relief from some nasal symptoms,” she noted.

She added: “The ability to ‘nose breathe’ is an essential part of an efficient breathing pattern, and this study shows the treatment can provide the added benefit of helping people with asthma feel they can breathe more easily.”

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