Using Nasal Air Filters to Help Allergic Rhinitis

For some people with allergies to airborne particles, nasal filters can help prevent allergy symptoms. A nasal filter is a small device that fits just inside the nostrils and acts to filter airborne allergens from the inhaled air, preventing these particles from reaching the mucous membranes of the nose,

You can use a nasal air filter when you are indoors or outdoors, which makes it versatile for filtering out different types of airborne allergies.

Man taking a walk in the fall
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What Is a Nasal Allergy Filter?

A nasal filter device works by reducing nasal contact with allergens, such as airborne pollen, pet dander, and mold.

While a nasal filter may not completely prevent allergy symptoms from occurring, most models are well-tolerated, easily worn, and not highly visible. It also doesn't cause significant side effects.

Things to consider when selecting a nasal air filter for yourself:

  • Comfortable to wear
  • Nearly invisible when worn
  • Easy to insert and remove
  • Affordability
  • Effectiveness

You might have to try a nasal filter to know whether it's effective for you.

These devices are available over the counter (OTC) and are generally disposable. There are several brands, and they each have instructions for use on the box.

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is one of the most common chronic medical conditions, affecting 15%–40% of Americans, which translates into tens of millions of people. Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include nasal congestion, nasal itching, runny nose, sneezing, eye itching, throat itching, and postnasal drip.

Allergic rhinitis is typically triggered by airborne allergens such as pollens, molds, animal dander, and particles left behind by pests such as dust mites and cockroaches. Avoiding allergens can help, but it’s difficult—if not impossible—to avoid some allergens, such as airborne pollen and mold. Treatments for allergic rhinitis often include medications and allergen immunotherapy.

An Alternative to Standard Treatment

Depending on your situation, you might consider trying nasal air filters to help control your allergies.

For example, you might not want to take allergy medicines due to factors such as convenience, cost, side effects, or potential medication interactions. Or you may have specific triggers that you can avoid sometimes, but not all the time.

If this treatment works for you, it could be beneficial to keep a few nasal filters handy so you can use them when you anticipate exposure to your allergens. And some people use them every day.

Do Nasal Allergy Filters Work?

Research shows that these small devices appear to be helpful in reducing or preventing some types of nasal allergy symptoms. Several studies have examined the effects of nasal filters on allergic rhinitis symptoms. Overall, the devices appear to be safe, easy to use, and beneficial for some people.

The Research

Twenty-four adult volunteers with a history of grass allergy were exposed to grass pollen in an environmental exposure unit (EEU) during the winter months—to be sure that there was no natural grass pollen exposure that could have affected the results. In this study, the volunteers wore either a real Rhinix brand device that filters pollen, or a placebo device that had no filter, and were exposed to grass pollen in an EEU for 210 minutes. Compared to the placebo, the Rhinix device was effective at reducing nasal itching, sneezing, and throat irritation. The Rhinix device showed no benefit over a placebo filter device for preventing runny nose and nasal congestion.

Another study using the same device evaluated 65 adult participants who had been diagnosed with grass allergies. After two days of exposure during grass pollen season, participants who used the nasal filter reported improvements in sneezing, watery eyes, and runny nose compared to participants who used the placebo. The nasal filter was completely safe to use, was well tolerated, and caused no significant side effects.

In another study, 834 adult participants who had allergic rhinitis were given a nasal filter to use for two weeks. Of the study group, 630 participants expressed interest In continuing to use the device. Those who wanted to continue to use it generally had worse allergy symptoms prior to using the filter and were more dissatisfied with their usual treatment than the participants who discontinued use.

A Word From Verywell

Nasal air filters are an option for preventing allergy symptoms that are triggered by airborne allergens. If you don't want to take medicines to treat your allergic rhinitis, or if you are concerned about your side effects, you could consider discussing this option with your healthcare provider.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wheatley LM, Togias A. Allergic rhinitis. N Engl J Med. 2015;372(5):456-463. doi:10.1056/NEJMcp1412282

  2. Kenney P, Hilberg O, Pedersen H, Nielsen OB, Sigsgaard T, et al. Nasal filters for the treatment of allergic rhinitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover clinical trialJ Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014;133(5):1477-1480. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2014.01.004

  3. Kenney P, Hilberg O, Laursen AC, Peel RG, Sigsgaard T. Preventive effect of nasal filters on allergic rhinitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover park studyJ Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015;136(6):1566-1572. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2015.05.015

  4. Kenney P, Hilberg O, Sigsgaard T. Clinical application of nasal filters: an observational study on the usability of nasal filters in managing seasonal allergic rhinitisJ Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2016;4(3):445-452. doi:10.1016/j.jaip.2016.01.003

Additional Reading

By Daniel More, MD
Daniel More, MD, is a board-certified allergist and clinical immunologist. He is an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and currently practices at Central Coast Allergy and Asthma in Salinas, California.