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Rhinix Nasal Filter: Scientists Test Out Tiny Filter For Spring Allergies

Would You Shove Something Up Your Nose To Stop Allergies?
Dave and Les Jacobs via Getty Images

Could a new device you wear inside the nose alleviate allergies?

A small study reports that a tiny "nasal filter" about the size of a contact lens that works by filtering pollen and other allergens significantly reduced daily nose-related allergies. The device's brand name is Rhinix; it is not yet commercially available.

"We found clinically relevant reductions in daily nasal symptoms with Rhinix compared to placebo, especially in sneezing, itching and runny nose symptoms," said Peter Kenney, the study's lead author and a medical and doctoral student at Aarhus University in Denmark. He's also the Rhinix company's founder and CFO and has filed an application for device approval by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The filter consists of a flexible frame inserted into both nostrils. The frame features a filtering membrane for each nostril, with a small plastic band visible at the bottom of the nostrils. A study on the filter's effectiveness involved 24 people with allergies to grass pollen. Participants were exposed to grass pollen for a total of 210 minutes.

"Depending on the filter's density, it blocks specific particles in the air -- including pollen from grass, which is one of the most frequent causes of hay fever," Kenney said.

The study found wearing the device reduced total daily nasal symptoms by 21 per cent compared to a placebo. Daily itching decreased by 36 per cent, and daily sneezing by 45 per cent. Throat irritation decreased by 75 per cent.

The study found no airflow difference between those wearing the filter and those wearing the placebo, which indicates wearing the device doesn't cause people to breathe through their mouths. Kenney notes the device is disposable and shouldn't be worn for more than one day.

"Some people will probably use them for an entire day whereas others might just use them when they are in an exposed environment [such as a park]," he said. Kenney also remarked that only one participant had concerns about appearance when wearing the device.

Dr. Mark Glaum, vice chair of the rhinitis, rhinosinusitis and ocular allergy committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, said the nasal filter could work for those who don't have eye-related allergic reactions.

"For certain individuals who want to try allergen avoidance rather than medications, this might be a more practical solution than wearing a mask. It's less obvious and more cosmetically appealing than a mask," he said.

"The changes in symptoms weren't huge, but for people with just nasal symptoms, it might help to a degree. It wouldn't do anything to improve eye symptoms though."

Glaum also remarked he'd like to see the study performed on a larger group of people to determine if results are the same. Kenney is planning a larger trial at this time.

The study was published as a letter to the editor in the March 7 edition Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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