I have a cleft palate condition (~40yo, otherwise healthy) and, until recently, experienced frequent flu-like or food poisoning-like illness symptoms. By frequent, I mean, at its worst, I was getting extremely sick at least every few months, with the same symptoms, and never actually getting back to 100% in between those periods. But, starting January 2019, I adopted daily (or more) saline nasal washes. From that point, until January 2020, I never came down sick. I had sniffles, runny noses, but nothing at all like what I had been enduring before. I hope this finding helps others who have cleft palate or who are perhaps suffering similar symptoms.
Illness Onset and Symptoms
Illnesses would usually come down very quickly. The last one I had was pretty standard: Went to the gym healthy, came home, and started to more tired than I should, and by then I could tell a soreness or discomfort in my throat meant I had something coming up. By the time I went to sleep, I had body aches and a fever w/hot and cold sweating while sleeping. Later comes extreme coughing and nasal congestion (to the point it’s easier to breathe out the mouth). Coughing could be so bad that it, eventually, becomes uncomfortable, even painful to cough. Coughs are usually unproductive, in a technical sense. Vomiting and diarrhea are sometimes included but not always.
Inspiration for Saline Nasal Wash Treatment
While working my office job, at the time, I observed a co-worker routinely using saline nasal washes and more than once throughout the day, even though from all indications this person was usually healthy. They told me it helps keep them healthy. I didn’t consider it at option for me at the time but, in hindsight, it should’ve been obvious.
After having many bouts of these illnesses, I started to question each time they came down what I had done to cause it. Like, maybe I shoveled the driveway of snow and got too cold. Maybe my toques and scarves needed to be washed more often. Maybe I ate something and. That kind of thing. I switched up things each time but nothing worked, at all, until I adopted the saline nasal wash habit.
Saline’s Effectiveness In My Words
Saline solution has long and varied use in medicine, see the Wikipedia article for details. The article is actually very glowing about saline solution for many medical uses and “[saline solution] is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the safest and most effective medicines needed in a health system.”
You can read the article for technical details but, basically, in my own words, its salt component inhibits growth of bacteria that might otherwise cultivate in your nasal passages or throat.
For those with cleft palate, you may have a situation where food particles or liquid droplets can move through the roof of the mouth and into the cavities above. By using a saline nasal, you are (1) flushing those cavities, and (2) cleansing them by the saltiness of the solution.
Availability and Ease of Use of Saline Nasal Spray
A saline nasal spray can home-made, literally from your regular, store-bought salt (reference).
Saline solutions can be stored in basic storage containers that you would have at home, like preservative jars.
Convenient spring-loaded, atomizer, saline pre-filled spray bottles can be purchased for relatively inexpensive amounts (CAD $10-$20) and these can be refilled either by store-bought saline packets or by home-made saline solutions.
I purchase pre-dosed saline solution packets which you mix with water. Instructions are provided, with different concentration options, to allow you to customize it how you like.
I store my saline solution in the fridge in a basic preservative jar.
I do a spray at least once daily, usually before flossing and brushing teeth before bed. I tilt my head back, insert the spray bottle tip just inside or even outside the tip of the nasal passage (there should be no discomfort), I breathe in slightly while triggering the nasal spray. I do this for each passage and I do this three times (so 3 times per nasal passage).
Recommendation to the Cleft Palate Medical Establishment
This treatment was so dramatic, instant, and life-changing that I hope medical practitioners, at least those who work with cleft palates, hear about this and start recommending to their patients.
I was in a cleft palate program for 27 years, from birth, had largely the same doctors over that period, and never heard this. They had other good advice but not this. This shouldn’t be a “wait until it comes up thing”. This should be part of a stock battery of advice for any patient with a cleft-palate. The improvement to life is that great.
I really wish I had known this sooner. I’ve been sick so many times with flu or food poisoning-like symptom illnesses, and flu and food-poisoning are not fun (they’re brutal), that I really started to be concerned about relationships and my future health when I was older with a weaker immune system if I wasn’t going to be able to find a solution. I’m happy and grateful to God that he brought these experiences my way and shaped my thinking in such a way that I fell onto this solution.
Once again, I hope somebody in the medical community reads this and starts recommending saline nasal washes. I think it’s that important and should start as soon as the patient is old enough to properly handle their self-care.
Thank you for reading this. I’ve written this because it’s something I didn’t have for many years and I hope it helps somebody else going through the same or similar thing.
Timeline of Flu-like Illnesses
- January 2020
- January 2019