If you suffer from chronic allergies, sinusitis or simply have a cold with nasal congestion, then using a Neti Pot (nasal cleansing pot) for nasal irrigation may benefit you tremendously. I suffer from chronic post-nasal drip and if I catch a cold, it never just lasts a few days if I don’t aggressively treat it. The combination of my normal allergies coupled with the viral symptoms of a cold, such as nasal congestion, makes getting over a cold much more difficult.
If I do not use my neti pot along with steam inhalation, saline sprays, humidification and drinking copious amounts of water, a simple cold turns into acute sinusitis lasting for about a month. And OTC cold medications are a just a temporary fix. If you use decongestants like Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) for more than a few days, they cause rebound-congestion and make your symptoms worse. And for those with sinusitis, it is recommended not to use antihsitamines like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or Claritin (lortadine) because the drying effect thickens the mucus, making it more difficult to drain.
How Does a Neti Pot Help Relieve Nasal and Sinus Symptoms?
- Removes excess mucus
- Reduces pollen or allergens in nasal passages
- Alleviates congestion, facial pain and pressure from sinus infections
- Relieves nasal dryness
How To Use A Neti Pot
This is one of those things that is better demonstrated than explained by words so watch the video below showing you how to properly use a neti pot. It is not that difficult to do. Once you start pouring the water through your nostril, you will get a sense of how to tilt your head to make the solution flow through your sinuses and eventually out your other nostril. If you do not tilt your head enough to the side, the water will not flow and it you do not tilt your head forward enough, some water will seep down your throat, but do not fret! Just make minute adjustments until the flow is right. You will be breathing through your mouth during the process.
There are all kinds of neti pot designs as well as different types of materials they are made of such as ceramic and plastic. I like the way the ceramic feels and find it easier to clean, plus plastic is so much a part of our lives I just rather avoid another plastic product when I can.
Making Your Neti Pot Solution
1) Use 1 cup (8 oz) of warm (~98 deg F) distilled, sterile or boiled water.
DO NOT USE TAP WATER! Aside from the chlorine irritating your nasal tissues, there have been a couple of cases where people have died from encephalitis caused by an amoeba found in the tap water. This is very rare, but it can happen and you can die from it. Tap water is okay for drinking, but not for irrigating sinuses.
Aside from buying purified water, you can also boil your tap water for 3-5 minutes and let it cool down to room temperature before using it. The boiling will kill anything harmful in your tap water. If you have filtered water at home, you can use it safely as long as the micron pore size rating is 1-micron or less. We use this Maytag Pur Refrigerator Filter that has a micron rating of 0.5 so I know the water is safe. I do, of course, heat it up to a warmer temperature since it comes out of the refrigerator ice cold. Do not pour cold or hot water into your nose. You will not get a good feeling from either, especially very hot water which can damage your nasal & sinus membranes.
2) Add 1/4 finely ground neti pot salt or non-iodized salt or 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt (kosher salt).
You do not want to use iodized salt because it will irritate your nasal and sinus tissues. The goal is to make a salt solution so that is isotonic and equivalent to our body’s natural salinity concentration of 0.9%. That’s why if you use plain water, it burns. Some people are now adding baking soda to “buffer” the solution, but I have yet to find any scientific reasoning for this. We are already making the solution isotonic. Buffering is referring to pH level and unless you know that the pH level of your water is somehow off, I would just not bother with adding baking soda.
3) Mix Well
Make sure you mix the salt well and that it is completely dissolved and distributed throughout the solution. I usually measure and pour my salt in the pot, then add the water and mix it with the measuring spoon. Note: As important as it is to keep your neti pot clean and use clean water, you should also take care that your measuring spoon for the salt is also clean before using.
Cleaning Your Neti Pot
It is extremely important to keep your neti pot clean. You do not want to introduce bacteria, viruses and the like into your sinuses by using a dirty pot. Use hot water and soap to clean your pot, rinse well and allow to completely dry before using again.
How Often Should You Use a Neti Pot?
How often you use a neti pot depends upon the severity of your symptoms. With severe symptoms, you can use the neti pot twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. For long-term and preventative use, it is advised to use 3-4 times a week. If you have been using the neti pot for several weeks with no significant relief of symptoms, stop using and contact your physician for alternative solutions.
Only 2-20% of Sinus Infections are Bacterial
Did you know that 80-98% of the time sinusitis is caused by a viral infection, not a bacterial infection? That means that antibiotics won’t help you get over it. And studies have shown even if your sinusitis is caused by a bacterial infection, that use of antibiotics usually doesn’t help you get over it any faster. So use your neti pot and stay out of your doctor’s office – unless you have a high fever, severe sore throat, facial pain and/or headaches that last for more than a few days or if your symptoms are getting worse and not improving. You can read more about nasal irrigation and neti pot use at Wikipedia.
*Always consult with your physician before starting any new health regime, neti pot cleansing or otherwise. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease.
Have any questions about using a neti pot? Ask away in the comments below!