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Saline washes for allergic rhinitis: sponsored

Common allergy rhinitis (hay fever) treatments and their effectiveness have been highlighted in recent news with US guidelines recommending corticosteroid nasal sprays as first line treatment for those with moderate to severe hayfever symptoms1. However, many consumers seek relief from over-the-counter antihistamine tablets from pharmacies as a quick fix solution.

The US guidelines support recommendations from the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) that have long recommended corticosteroid nasal sprays to help treat chronic hay fever. See ASCIA’s update on allergic rhinitis ASCIA Allergic Rhinitis Clinical UpdateAllergic Rhinitis Clinical Update

There is also evidence to suggest using an isotonic nasal saline or sinus rinse first to clean the nose or sinuses as this can improve the effectiveness of corticosteroid nasal sprays2.

More recently NPS Medicinewise recognised the benefits of saline washing in the role of hay fever symptom control and have included it within their recommendations for hayfever medicines3. So why is saline washing helpful when managing hay fever symptoms?

When allergens are breathed in, they reach the moist tissues of the nose and if one is allergic to them, then an allergic reaction follows. The tissues own chemicals, such as Histamine, produced as part of this reaction unfortunately lead to the common hay fever symptoms such as a congested nose (blocked or runny), an itchy nose, sneezing and itchy, watery eyes.

Nasal or sinus rinses can be of help because they help to wash away pollens and reduce the pollen load in the nasal tissues. Similarly this helps to dilute and remove some of the tissue chemicals that are responsible for the hay fever symptoms, thereby decreasing their severity4. For those with particularly sensitive or irritated noses, a preservative-free, isotonic saline may be preferable. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare practitioner for further advice on which saline is most suitable.

Australian and US guidelines recommend that you get onto a treatment plan early, weeks before hay fever season starts. Talking with a qualified health care practitioner is of great importance especially for those who suffer chronic allergy or hay fever symptoms and associated respiratory problems.


  1. News Medical Life Sciences:

  2. Isotonic nasal saline irrigation is an effective adjunctive therapy to intranasal corticosteroid sprays in allergic rhinitis. Nguyen SA et al. American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy Vol 28 pp1-2.

  3. NPS Medicinewise:

  4. Nasal irrigation as an adjunctive treatment in allergic rhinitis. A systematic review and metaanalysis. Hermelingmeier M, et al. American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy 2012. Vol 26, no. 5, pp110-125.

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The article above has been reviewed by A&AA.

The views expressed in this articles are not necessarily the views of A&AA and you should always seek your own medical advice.

Content reviewed December 2017


If you are having an allergic reaction follow advice on your ASCIA Action Plan.

If in doubt, give the Anapen® or EpiPen®.

Do not call us for emergency advice.

If you do not have an ASCIA Action Plan and/or an Anapen® or EpiPen® call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.