Neti Pots and More: 6 Smart Nasal Irrigation Tips


Introduction to Nasal Irrigation or Nasal Rinsing

Having a stuffy nose, cough and nasal congestion from allergies, sinusitis, or through any other medical conditions can greatly affect the quality of life for many people. Drainage from the nose and sinus can make the allergies like rhinitis worst, especially at night. In a recent survey, almost 90% of family physicians recommend nasal saline irrigation for sinus and nasal symptoms. Nasal cleansing/irrigation is an ancient practice that started in India and which has spread to other parts of the world. There are many nasal rinsing devices available in the market which are designed to open up the nasal passage flushing out the mucus that is causing congestion.

What Causes Sinusitis or Nasal Congestion?

Sinuses are the air filled spaces between the cheek bones, between the eyes, and in the forehead region. Normally sinuses are moist or wet inside with a thin layer of mucus. Normal healthy sinuses have fine hairs or cilia inside to clear away the mucus which drains away on its own. When the sinuses stop working as they should, the mucus builds up leading to a condition called congestion. Congestion leads to swelling of the sinus lining and a person may experience following symptoms.

  • Thick, colored mucus drainage.

  • Bad breath.

  • Fever.

  • Facial pain or pressure.

  • Cough.

  • Stuffy nose.

How Does Nasal Irrigation Help Clear the Mucus?

Sinus rinsing is a technique learned to do at home. Rinsing the inside of your nose with a mild salt water solution helps to clean the mucus from your nose and reduces the swelling of the nose. This in turn often reduces congestion and helps you to breathe more easily.

Rinsing also removes allergens, dirt, and dust out of the nose and makes the nasally administered medications more effective. This rinsing inside the nose is called as nasal wash or nasal irrigation or nasal lavage.

Nasal irrigation is an effective self-care technique that can be performed by anyone at home to help with sinus symptoms. Following are the steps involved in sinus rinsing−

Step-1: Gather all the Supplies

To start with, we need a sinus rinsing device and the materials to make the mild salt water solution which is also known as saline solution.

Sinus rinsing can be done using different devices. The most common among them are −

  • Sinus Rinse Bottles − As you squeeze the bottle the saline is pumped to the top.

  • Neti pot − It looks like a small teapot with a long spout.

  • Bulb syringe − It should not be used for sinus rinsing unless the health care provider advises you to do so.

All of the devices can be available at the local pharmacy stores or a store that carries all the home health care supplies.

Saline solution is the most common fluid used for sinus rinsing. It is a mixture of salt, baking soda, and distilled water or clean water. Tap or bore water should not be used for sinus rinsing as they are not completely clean and contain germs. If at all tap water is to be used first boil it for 3 minutes and then let it come to room temperature.

Use water which is warm or at body temperature as it is more comfortable. Do not use hot water. Saline solution can be prepared using the pre-measured packets of saline powder available over the counter. At home, if the saline solution is to be prepared, follow the below process.

Add half a tablespoon of non-iodized salt and a quarter tablespoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of distilled water. Use non-iodized sea salt or Kocher’s salt as it is more comfortable and do not use table salt.

Step-2: Wash Your Hands

Wash your hands very well with soap and water. Rinse and dry hands using a clean towel.

Step-3: Prepare The Saline Solution

Fill the sinus rinse the bottle with the warm distilled water and add the saline powder or above mentioned quantities of salt and baking soda into the water. Close the bottle with the provided lid and gently shake the bottle to mix the solution.

For a neti pot stir the saline powder into the water and mix gently.

Step-4: Start Rinsing

Lean your upper body over a sink and may be preferred to keep the face in an upright position as if one is looking into the mirror or may tip your head towards the faucet. Put the tip of the bottle firmly into one of the nostrils and block the entire nostril. Now gently squeeze the bottle until the solution runs out of the other nostril or from the mouth. Before releasing each squeeze remove the bottle from the nose to avoid the solution entering back into the bottle. Use about half the bottle for each nostril.

For neti pot also follow the same steps. Tip the head to the side and place the tip of the neti pot firmly into one nostril and pour the saline so it runs out of the other nostril or mouth.

Step-5: Blow Your Nose

After rinsing, tilt the head to the side and start blowing the nose. Some of the saline solution may drain down the mouth and there is no problem with it.

Step-6: Clean the Bottle

After done with rinsing, wash the bottle with hot but not boiling water and a small amount of dish wash soap. Rinse and air dry the bottle. Also, wash your hands and dry with a clean towel. Replace the bottle every 3 months of use.

Nasal Irrigation: Benefits

Nasal wash or saline irrigation shows the following benefits −

  • Helps to clean mucus from your nose.

  • Decreases nasal swelling.

  • Increases airflow.

  • Rinses allergens from the nose.

  • Regular nasal irrigation helps to remove bacteria and viruses which reduces the potential for infection.

  • Moistens tiny hair like structures called cilia which pass out allergens to the throat without causing any harm to the nose.

Safety Guidelines of Using Neti Pots

Neti pots usually help people with common cold and nasal congestion. Nasal irrigation through a neti pot is always a safe and effective way for people who follows some of the below safety measures −

  • Follow the directions of usage.

  • Replace the pot every 3 months.

  • Do not share the apparatus with others.

  • Do not use if you have nose bleeds and ear infections.

  • Do not use if you had a recent ear or sinus surgery.

  • Do not use if you experience pressure in the ears while using.

  • See the doctor if symptom persists.

  • Use the distilled water or pre-boiled and cooled tap water or reverse osmosis filtered water or micro filtered water.

Bottom Line

Nasal irrigation is a proactive step often taken to get relief from symptoms of congestion making us to breathe comfortably. Neti pot is a type of sinus rinsing device used by many people with allergies. As we start sinus rinsing, we may have to try different saline powders in order to choose the best one which works well for you. Sinus rinsing may seem hard at the beginning but it is an important part of our self-care and it makes difference in many people. How often and how much quantity of saline solution required for nasal irrigation using neti pot or any other device is still a topic of debate in the scientific world. However, this process of nasal clearance is a very effective way providing relief and comfort to many people around the world.

Updated on: 24-Feb-2023

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