Flush your sinuses 2 to 3 times a day with a neti pot mixture of:
- 1 cup warm filtered water (some tap water contains infectious microorganisms, so best to boil or filter water first)
- 1/4 tsp. neti pot salt (use himalayan or celtic sea salt if you don’t have neti pot salt)
- 4 drops wild oregano oil (use 2 drops for children)
- For a stubborn sinus infection, add 1 tsp. colloidal silver (minimum 22 ppm)
Mix well to distribute evenly. As your nasal infection goes away, you can use less wild oregano oil, as even 2 drops will have a protective effect.
This video, which shows you how to use a neti pot, may well be the best method to use – with the best chance of not getting “sinus burn”:
How to use a neti pot to easily and gently irrigate your sinuses:
1. Prepare your neti pot solution of 1/4 tsp salt mixed in 8 ounces of warm boiled or filtered water. Tap water is usually fine, but if you are sensitive, or want to ensure there’s no infectious organisms, use boiled or filtered water.
2. Lean forward and turn your head to one side over the sink, keeping the forehead at the same height as the chin, or slightly higher.
3. Gently insert the spout in the upper nostril so it forms a comfortable seal.
4. Raise the neti pot gradually so the saline solution flows in through your upper nostril and out of the lower nostril. Breathe through your mouth. Opening your mouth and making a “K” sound will prevent the neti pot solution from coming out of your mouth.
5. Empty about half the pot, then blow your nose vigorously to clear sinuses. Switch sides and let the water flow in through the other nostril.
6. When the neti pot is empty, face the sink and exhale vigorously (blow out from the back of your head, not just the front part of your nose) without pinching the nostrils.
Squeeze Bottle Remedy
If you don’t want to use a neti pot, you can use an 8 ounce squeeze bottle and squirt 4 ounces of the nasal spray solution into each nostril. The solution exits through the opposite nostril. Opening your mouth and making a “K” sound will prevent the sinus wash from coming out of your mouth.
Personally, I find the squeeze bottle sinus treatment far more invasive and difficult to use than the neti pot – and more likely to result in “sinus burn” (what happens when you jump in a swimming pool and the water goes up your nose).
Nebulizer Sinus Remedy
You can also put a broad-spectrum anti-pathgen (bad bug killer) sinus remedy (like colloidal silver, or food-grade hydrogen peroxide) into a nebulizer.
You can use a vaporizer, or a steam tent, but these methods are not as effective as a nebulizer, since they cannot deliver a strong dose and the heat can also make it difficult to breathe in as deeply and fully as you need to. For a cold or mild allergy, a steam tent of vaporizer may be sufficient, but for an infection, you really should invest in a motorized nebulizer (plug-in or battery operated), especially if you have had recurring sinus infections.
For a sinus infection, you simply breathe in the nebulizer vapor through your nose, rather than your mouth. This delivers the medicine directly throughout your entire sinuses. Remember to breathe as deeply as you can to really flood the sinus cavities. Since it only involves breathing, many people find this preferable to using a neti pot. If you have any lung difficulties, then alternate inhaling through the mouth and nose. See this article for detailed instructions on how to use hydrogen peroxide and/or colloidal silver in a nebulizer.
If you have suffered from repeated or chronic sinus infections, then you also need to replenish the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. Take 1 to 2 capsules of a therapeutic high dose probiotic like Natren Healthy Trinity every day for at least one year.
Eucalyptus Steam Tent Remedy
Use a large ceramic or stainless steel bowl (no plastic or aluminum). Or a steel saucepan can work well too if you don’t have a bowl. Fill it 3/4 full of boiling drinking water and add 15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Now place your face right over the bowl, and cover your head and the bowl with a clean towel; creating a steam tent. Breathe as deeply as you can, in through your nose. Have some Kleenex handy so you can blow your snot out as needed, then go back to inhaling.
If it gets too hot, just open a corner of the steam tent to let some cool air in. Also do some deep breaths in through your mouth, pulling huge breaths into your lungs – breathe to fill your belly first, then up into your chest. As you breathe in, imagine the eucalyptus steam pushing into and filling the back of your lungs; pressing your ribcage out, as you breathe in.
This is a very easy remedy to administer to kids and all 3 of mine really loved it. If your children are very young, get under the steam tent with them and show them how to do it and also to test that it’s not too hot.
Breathe Easy At Night and Relieve Sinus Headache
To be able to sleep well (which builds your immune system, helping to fight the infection), do the neti pot (or the eucalyptus steam tent) last thing before bed and then apply Olbas Salve as a decongestant to open your sinus and help you breathe easier during the night. Keep the tube of salve on your nightstand for easy re-application if you wake up in the night.
Apply Olbas Salve to your temples, across your forehead, to the bony ridges under your eyes (keep away from eyes) and to the sides of your nose. This will also help to relieve any sinus headache you might have. You can re-apply during the day as well, as needed
NOTE: Be sure to get my Free eBook: What You Need To Know About Wild Oregano Oil by signing up in the green box towards the top of this page.
- Will a Neti Pot Treat a Sinus Infection?
- Do Neti Pots Help With Sinus Infections?
- How Do You Use a Neti Pot?
- How Many Times Can You Use Your Neti Pot?
- How to Avoid Neti Pot Dangers
- The 5 Best Sinus Rinse Kits [Ranked]
- Chronic Sinus Problems? Try the Bulletproof Sinus Rinse
- How to clear your sinuses
- Rock the Neti Pot: 6 Smart Nasal Irrigation Tips to Promote Sinus Health and Minimize Sinus Infections
- What Is Sinus Irrigation, and Is It the Same as a Nasal Wash or Rinse?
- Small Studies Show Nasal Irrigation or Rinsing Helps Sinus Health
- How Nasal Irrigation Works to Help Stop Sinus Symptoms and Sinus Infections
- Why It’s Crucial to Rinse or Irrigate the Sinuses Safely
- Keep Your Nasal Irrigation Devices Clean
- Safety Guidelines: Use Only These Types of Water for Nasal Irrigation
- 6 Practical Nasal Irrigation Tips for Comfort and Effectiveness
- 1. Consider Adding Some Salt to Your Nasal Rinse
- 2. Get the Right Tools to Get Saline Into Your Nose for Nasal Irrigation
- 3. Find the Nasal-Rinsing Technique That Works for You
- 4. Try Rinsing Nasal Passages Again if Necessary
- 5. Keep Turning Your Head to Reach Deep Sinus Passageways
- 6. Talk to Your Physician About Sinus Washing
- Cons of Nasal Irrigation
- How to Dry
- When to Stop
Will a Neti Pot Treat a Sinus Infection?
The feeling is all too familiar to those of us in Knoxville—When the membranes in your nasal passages become swollen, nasal congestion occurs.
While decongestants can be one of the first things people grab for relief from a stuffy nose, the team at AFC Urgent Care Knoxville wants to make you aware of another tool that might help ease your sinus issues—a Neti pot.
Do Neti Pots Help With Sinus Infections?
When you are unable to breathe through your nose, you are miserable—both during the day and at night. In order to find relief and breathe easier sooner rather than later, many people have started turning to the Neti pot.
How Do You Use a Neti Pot?
- Fill the Neti pot with a solution of saline and sanitized water.
- Get into position with your head over the sink, turned to the side.
- Breathe through your mouth.
- Insert the spout in the upper nostril.
- Gently pour solution into nostril.
- Repeat the process for the other side.
- Remove the excess water by blowing your nose gently.
Make sure you clean your Neti pot with distilled water and air dry to ensure it remains clear of germs and bacteria.
How Many Times Can You Use Your Neti Pot?
When you are unable to breathe through your nose, you want to do all you can to make the airways clear. However, using your Neti pot too much can lead to other health issues.
How to Avoid Neti Pot Dangers
- Use only distilled or sterile water.
- Clean your Neti pot after each use.
- Only use your Neti pot one to three times a week.
- Tilt your head the right way.
If you are still having issues with your sinuses after a day or two, then it’s time for a visit to AFC Urgent Care Knoxville. We’ll diagnose the problem and get you back to feeling your best.
The 5 Best Sinus Rinse Kits [Ranked]
The first nasal rinse system we examined was the Navage. It’s marketed as one of the only nasal irrigators that has a truly gentle suction power that is designed to help relieve nasal congestion associated with hayfever, colds, pollution, sinusitis, and common allergies.
A drug-free option, the manufacturers reinforce that nasal irrigation is an effective and safe means to disrupt sinus congestion so that you don’t have to go to the doctor as frequently or take potentially harmful medications. The nose cleaner itself works only with Navage salt pods, helping you to retrieve refreshing saline rinses without a mess.
- Buyers say that this nasal rinse system will not function without the salt pods- this is because of their proprietary design.
- Other buyers also say that you should always use distilled water, regardless of the nasal-rinsing device you choose to purchase- this is because elements in tap water can create polyps, reviewers have been told by medical professionals.
- It’s powered by a pair of included AA batteries- and if you use it twice a day, for irrigation cycles that last under 30 seconds, the batteries are indicated to last at least three months.
- Some buyers who traditionally used neti pots purchased this as-seen-on-TV nasal rinse system because it produces less of a mess and was more powerfully effective for relieving runny noses, seasonal allergies and clogged nose associated with common colds.
- Another purchaser who suffers from chronic sinus problems and who frequently resorted to over-the-counter nasal sprays, instead of neti pots, says that using the Navage twice a day has helped increase the quality of his sleep, decreased incidences of headaches, and liberated him from the nasal sprays he had been relying on.
- In addition, buyers say that it’s a worthwhile investment to buy saline pods in bulk so that you never run out- you can also supplement with a travel case and a drying rack.
- Another sufferer who has had such serious nasal congestion issues since childhood that it required oral steroids to relieve says that the nasal rinse machine has actually opened up his right nostril passage that often times became completely closed.
- One of the best features of this machine is that it closes off both of your nasal passages so that the rinsing solution doesn’t leak back out of your nostrils- plus the gentle suction helps to permeate through really tight areas.
The SinuPulse Nasal Rinser System
The second nasal irrigation system we examined was manufactured by Health Solutions- it’s marketed as a quick sinus relief option that includes an integrated LED display and an adjustable pressure control. It’s marketed as a high-tech irrigator that provides a pulsating spray for gentle relief to help clear and clean the nasal cilia and sinuses.
It’s marketed to individuals suffering from sinus infections, postnasal drip, sinus headaches, congestion and inflamed nasal passages.
A drug-free treatment option, they describe the origins of nasal irrigation as beginning in ancient India when sufferers would frequently resort to manually sniffing up salt water to clear out Weed, tree, flower and grass pollens that had accumulated in the nose. This helps to purge the sufferer’s nose of inflammatory irritants that were to blame for the aggravating sinus and allergy symptoms.
- Some buyers say that the key to success using an irrigator is the amount of fluid flushing it provides in conjunction with the steroids that can be added and its adjustable pressure.
- These all operate in tandem to provide the best long-term results.
- Another reviewer who suffers from aggravating post nasal drip told us that he was so frequently stuffed up with phlegm that he would constantly be coughing mucous up throughout the workday.
- In addition, because of this chronic nasal aggravation, he was on able to get a full night’s rest, which had negative effects on his job performance as well as his general mood.
- Most buyers find that it is a stellar complementary therapeutic device that has been able to provide targeted rinses with a durable motor built to stand up to the corrosive elements of the saline.
The NeilMed Nasal Bottle Rinser
The third nasal rinse we examined is not a machine- instead, it is 50 premixed packets that provide a sinus rinse to alleviate dryness, allergies as well as relief of irritation associated with occupational dust, pollen, smoke, animal dander and other noxious fumes.
It ships with the bottle and 50 saline packets with buyers saying it’s a good idea to watch a couple of YouTube videos to get a sense of how to best use this option.
- One buyer who has suffered from chronic sinus infections that even impacted his teeth told us that for him it was a miracle cure, dislodging a disgusting amount of mucus from his nose, relieving sinus pressure and enabling him to breathe comfortably again.
- Buyers say that in order to get the best results, you should try to aim is nozzle tip of your opposite eye rather than inject the bottle nasal rinse straight vertical into the nostril.
The Squip Nasal Injection Rinse
The fourth nasal rinsing system we examined is the Squip system. This is a syringe delivery system designed enabling you to completely control the pressure and flow of the saline solution to maximize its effectiveness and comfort.
As well, it is built to avoid as much as possible the incidence of backflow so that reinfections don’t occur. Buyers say that it is an effective option that is a solid solution if you need to travel with a nasal irrigation tool.
One common complaint is that if you are using it frequently the plunger can become intractable in under half a years time. Another buyer told us that in comparison to electric-powered machines, it’s much cheaper with comparable performance plus it’s better than a regular Netti pot because you don’t have to tilt your head.
The NeliMed Cordless Power Rinser
The last nasal sinugator we examined is built by NeliMed. It is a cordless, battery-powered option that provides a pulsating nasal wash helpful for cleansing the nostrils before you spray nasal corticosteroids.
- Buyers say that opposed to bulkier machine options, this nasal irrigator is a small and portable option that is a great travel accessory.
- Another reviewer who is plagued by congested airways on account of horrific allergies says that as an active parent it was essential that she find a solution that would help her sleep through the night and deal with her overactive seven-year-old at home.
- She told us that she employed bottled water as opposed to tap water to ensure that there weren’t any disgusting amoebas that would be infecting her nostrils.
- The result was she unearthed disgusting mucus chunks from her nose that were so massive that she couldn’t believe they came from her face.
- If you have to use it frequently, buyers suggest purchasing a nasal gel to help soothe the nasal tissues that become over washed.
Chronic Sinus Problems? Try the Bulletproof Sinus Rinse
You might think that the colder months are the only time for sinus infections, but many people suffer from sinus problems year-round. Do you recognize any of these symptoms — constant low-grade congestion, facial pain, headaches or chronic colds? Then you might benefit from this simple sinus hack that’s made my sinus problems obsolete.
Try these quick and easy methods to clear your sinuses
I suffered from sinus congestion for a whole decade. I was living in a house with toxic mold that triggered chronic sinusitis. My nasal cavity was almost always blocked, which is no good for your performance or your happiness.
It got so bad that I scheduled a routine “roto-rooter” sinus surgery, affectionately likened to plumbing for good reason: the procedure manually clears your sinuses as if they were a clogged drain. I was lucky that three days before, I figured out this hack that cured my sinusitis. I am so grateful that I did because most people who get the surgery have to go back and get it again since it doesn’t fix the core problem, which is inflammation. Focusing on the symptom is not sustainable; you have to target the cause.
For millions of years, mold and bacteria have been at war. Mold exposure can cause bacteria inside your sinuses to form a biofilm in response to the moldy threat. According to one study, mold can even cause sinusitis in those who have no specific fungal allergy .
In some cases, your sinus bacteria start to produce lipopolysaccharide, an endotoxin that impairs cognitive function in mice . Even if you don’t produce lipopolysaccharide, sinus congestion is a background annoyance that robs your body and brain of energy. Here’s how to hack sinusitis.
How to clear your sinuses
There are three methods for effective sinus relief that I recommend.
1. Get a sinus saline spray. This can give temporary relief by moisturizing your nasal cavity, but frankly, it isn’t the best option. If you have a chronic condition, it will simply return when the spray wears off. I use this on airplanes when I don’t have access to other tools. I suggest Xlear, which you can buy at Whole Foods. Their formula includes xylitol, a sugar alcohol that inhibits the growth of nasopharyngeal bacteria .
2. One step better is using a Neti Pot. This is a little pot that you fill with boiled and cooled salt water so you can irrigate your nose. The technique has its origins in Ayurveda, the complex system of medicine developed in ancient India, and there are numerous studies showing that saline nasal irrigation is effective . Neti Pots are good but can be a hassle to carry with you if you travel.
3. The best nasal irrigation I’ve found is a Bulletproof Sinus Rinse. Boil filtered water, cool it to a warm temperature (not hot enough to burn you, but still fairly warm), and and pour it into a large sterilized salad bowl. Next, add salt; enough to make the solution isotonic (roughly ½ teaspoon for every cup of water). Salt water – the key ingredient in all these techniques – prevents bacterial growth, whereas regular water promotes it. The next ingredient you’ll add is a few drops of iodine, and, if you wish, xylitol.
- Place your bowl on a counter and bend forward like a dippy bird. Don’t tip your head back or you’ll gag. Your spine should be parallel to the floor.
- Now blink your eyes two or three times. The iodine will sterilize the lining in your eyes where there is a huge amount of bacteria that result in the inflammation of your immune system. This doubles as a way to beat hayfever by clearing the pollen and pollutants from your eyes.
- Now, close your eyes and “drink” through your nose. The solution won’t go down your throat if you are at the proper angle; rather, it will collect in the back of your mouth. When your mouth is full, spit the water out in the sink, and repeat.
On another day or at another time, try this version: use GSE (grapefruit seed extract) instead of iodine. You can keep using the xylitol. GSE is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial for fungus and bacteria .
Do the Bulletproof Sinus Rinse regularly to break up the biofilms in your sinuses. It’ll reduce inflammation and clear your mind. When I started using this technique, I did it about 10 times a day, because my sinus congestion was so severe. Now, I only do it once or twice a week as maintenance. It changed my life.
One word of advice, however. If you have never done this before, you probably don’t want to try it first on the night of a hot date. If your sinuses are shaped in a certain way, the solution can reach deep into your maxillary cavity. You might hear it sloshing around, and it can sometimes drain out of your nostrils without warning. Not the most attractive thing to happen mid-dinner.
If you have postnasal mucus – the real gunky stuff in the back of your throat – and it is making your congestion extra stubborn, you can try Guaifenesin, an expectorant drug often sold over the counter, followed by the Bulletproof Sinus Rinse. Guaifenesin isn’t the best thing to put in your body because it has artificial coloring, but it will thin out unwanted mucus. The Bulletproof Sinus Rinse should take care of the rest.
Are you experiencing any sinus problems? Give this a try and let me know how it goes in the comments below. Happy biohacking!
Rock the Neti Pot: 6 Smart Nasal Irrigation Tips to Promote Sinus Health and Minimize Sinus Infections
Whether or not you use medicines or have this surgery, sinus irrigation can be beneficial.
What Is Sinus Irrigation, and Is It the Same as a Nasal Wash or Rinse?
Nasal irrigation is a type of personal hygiene, basically an attempt to use salt-water solutions to force out bacteria and other germs residing in the sinus passages behind the face. Other terms for this are nasal wash, nasal douche, or lavage; some people refer to it by one of the popular devices used to do this, a “neti pot.”
This ancient practice likely got its start in the Indian medical tradition of Ayurveda, according to a review published in May 2017 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. (3)
Small Studies Show Nasal Irrigation or Rinsing Helps Sinus Health
Unfortunately, as with most alternative treatments, there are not many large, well-done studies of nasal irrigation. Still, those that do exist generally show a benefit.
Researchers examining the available studies, for example, found just one randomized controlled saline-solution trial with 76 adults meeting their strict criteria, according to their review published in April 2016 in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. (4) Although even this one study had weaknesses, it did find that after six months, the irrigation group had slightly better results than a control group.
A study by British researchers published in September 2016 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (after the Cochrane review), also found the method to be effective. (5) More than 800 patients in several physician practices were randomized to use either irrigation, simple steam inhalation treatments, a combination of the two, or neither. Participants did their method daily at home for up to six months. The researchers found patients had more symptoms improve after using the nasal irrigation than the other methods. (Steam inhalation was found mostly to reduce headaches.) People who used the irrigation were also able to reduce their use of over-the-counter medicines and didn’t need to see their doctor as frequently.
How Nasal Irrigation Works to Help Stop Sinus Symptoms and Sinus Infections
Experts aren’t sure of the exact way nasal irrigation works. Some have wondered whether it is something about the composition of the solution used that makes a difference.
That may play a role, but most likely it is the mechanical action of the liquid pouring into the sinuses that are responsible, experts say. The pressurized liquid in the sinuses helps soften and ultimately dislodge some of the mucus lining. Plus, pollen and other foreign substances in these passageways responsible for allergic reactions can be flushed away. (3)
Why It’s Crucial to Rinse or Irrigate the Sinuses Safely
For the most part, irrigating your sinuses produces minimal side effects. Some people experience irritation or discomfort in their nose, and possibly an occasional, short-lasting earache. (3)
But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that improper use of nasal-rinsing devices (such as bulb syringes, squeeze bottles, and battery-operated pulsed water devices) can increase the risk of infection. According to the agency, any bacteria or other organisms in a contaminated device or in the liquid can enter your sinuses, causing harm. (6)
Keep Your Nasal Irrigation Devices Clean
In rare cases, this is very serious. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns that very rarely, people using nasal irrigation with tap water have become infected with the dangerous parasite Naegleria fowleri. (7) While these organisms may not cause harm if swallowed because stomach acid wipes them out, they can live and thrive in the warren of passageways of your sinuses. (7)
Safety Guidelines: Use Only These Types of Water for Nasal Irrigation
To prevent this potentially dangerous problem, the FDA suggests using only carefully selected water:
- Buy special bottles of water bought in the store labeled “distilled” or “sterile.”
- Sterilize water yourself, by boiling tap water for three to five minutes, then cooling it until it is lukewarm. You can store this boiled water in a clean, closed container for use the following day (but no longer).
Water coming directly from the tap or shower is not safe to use, the FDA says, because this does not remove potential contaminants. (6)
It’s also important to properly clean the device you use to insert the water (more on that below). The FDA advises washing it according to the manufacturer’s directions and drying it thoroughly either with a paper towel or by air-drying between uses. (6)
Once you’ve mastered the sanitation basics, you can focus on your personal hygiene practice and rinse out your sinuses on a regular basis.
6 Practical Nasal Irrigation Tips for Comfort and Effectiveness
1. Consider Adding Some Salt to Your Nasal Rinse
Because your nasal passages are naturally salty, using a saline solution rather than straight water can feel better.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) suggests a recipe: mix 3 teaspoons (tsp) of non-iodized salt (iodide may irritate your nasal lining), and 1 tsp of baking soda with 1 cup of sterilized water. (8)
2. Get the Right Tools to Get Saline Into Your Nose for Nasal Irrigation
There are several ways to get the water into the passages behind your nose. You can use a squirt bottle, a pump designed for this purpose, or a vessel with a long spout called a neti pot. (4)
3. Find the Nasal-Rinsing Technique That Works for You
You simply fill the device with the solution, then lean over your sink (or, even easier, do it standing in the shower). Tilt your head sideways with your forehead and chin roughly level. Breathing through your mouth, place the container into your upper nostril and allow the water to drain out naturally. (6)
4. Try Rinsing Nasal Passages Again if Necessary
Repeat until your passages feel clearer, then turn your head the other way and work the other side. (6)
5. Keep Turning Your Head to Reach Deep Sinus Passageways
Some experts think it’s best to turn your head further so it is almost upside down. As one physician wrote in a letter published October 2016 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, since the openings of the deep sinus passageways are at the very top of the nasal cavity, this is the best way to ensure the water gets into these back tubes. (9)
6. Talk to Your Physician About Sinus Washing
If you have questions or concerns about using a saline nasal rinse, be sure to speak with your doctor. You should also do so if you experience pain or any problems after using this treatment.
Cons of Nasal Irrigation
Using nasal irrigation to clear stuffed sinuses can be helpful from time to time for relieving symptoms, but a study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology in 2009 shows that it may actually be counterproductive when used regularly over the long term. The study showed that patients who used nasal saline irrigation for a year and then stopped using it for a year had a 62% lower incidence of sinusitis during the year in which they stopped.
The idea behind this finding is that nasal mucus serves a beneficial function, helping to protect the body against infection. “The nasal mucus we have in the nose contains very important immune elements that are the first line of respiratory defense against infections,” explains Talal Nsouli, MD, who headed the study.
As it helps remove the bad mucus, saline may also dilute or wash away these beneficial antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral agents, says Nsouli, who is a clinical professor of pediatrics and immunology at Georgetown University’s medical school and the director of the Watergate & Burke Allergy and Asthma Centers in Washington, D.C.
Nsouli doesn’t advise stopping nasal irrigation altogether. He only suggests using it in moderation.
“I don’t have anything against nasal saline. But I have something against nasal saline being used long-term on a daily basis,” he says. “People who are using nasal saline on a regular basis, it makes them feel like it is helping them, but they are only patching the problem.”
Nsouli advises using nasal irrigation for no more than one to three weeks. If your symptoms don’t improve during that time, see your doctor, who can diagnose the underlying problem and get you the appropriate treatment.
Many people with colds, the flu or allergies swear by neti pots to flush away nasal congestion and banish post-nasal drip. But are these little teapot-shaped devices with an extra-long spout safe? And is it OK to flush your sinuses with saline solution every day?
A neti pot can come in various shapes and sizes. doglikehorse / Today
For the most part, experts says, neti pots are safe — as long as you’re careful to clean them regularly and use the right source of water in the saline solution.
For those who are unfamiliar with neti pots and nasal flushing, the concept is pretty simple. The spout is placed in one nostril and the head is tilted at about a 45 degree angle off of vertical, so the other nostril is lower. The pot is held high and the salty water flows in one nostril and out of the other, flushing debris out with it.
“The salt water helps loosen and flush out the mucus,” explains Dr. Amy Crawford-Faucher, an assistant clinical professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Because it also thins the mucus, it helps with post-nasal drip.”
Another advantage: salt has some antimicrobial properties, Crawford-Faucher says.
For first time users, the experience can be a bit off putting, Crawford-Faucher says. “It feels like jumping into the ocean without pinching your nose shut,” she explains.
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But the relief is often so great that the initial discomfort is soon forgotten, says Dr. Marilene Wang, a professor in the department of head and neck surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the director of UCLA’s Nasal and Sinus Disease Center.
“The fluid is similar to what is in tears and it’s actually very soothing and cleansing to the sinuses,” Wang adds. “When you breathe air in in Los Angeles, it comes with a lot of particles. They land in the nose and irritate the tissue. People who have allergies have an overreaction and develop symptoms like thick sticky mucus, sneezing, and runny eyes. If you rinse out the irritants, you remove the trigger that incites the symptoms.”
There’s been some controversy over nasal irrigation — one widely-publicized study in 2009 suggested daily use worsened acute sinus infections. But a 2012 analysis of 10 relevant studies by the National Institutes of Health found that nasal irrigation can be a “safe and inexpensive” form of treatment for upper respiratory symptoms. The NIH report didn’t determine the optimal system (spray or douching with a pot or bulb) or type of saline solution, however.
For the most part the treatment is safe, experts say. The biggest issues are keeping the neti pot clean and making sure you use the right kind of water.
In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration, the most important safety factor in nasal flushing is the water source. That’s because tainted tap water can be lethal. In fact, two deaths in Louisiana were traced to water in neti pots that had been contaminated with an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri, also known as the “brain-eating amoeba.”
That’s why it’s best to use distilled or boiled water in your neti pot, Crawford-Faucher says.
Still, she says, people shouldn’t be unduly frightened since this is a very rare happening.
“One of the blessings and curses of the Internet is that those two cases, which would probably never have seen the light of day before, now have taken on importance because we all know about it,” Crawford-Faucher says.
More likely is the possibility that bacteria or fungi can build up in the neti pot if you don’t keep it clean. So you want to wash it regularly and thoroughly, Crawford-Faucher says. And don’t share it.
Wang goes a step further. To be on the safe side, she says, “I recommend changing the bottle or pot at least every month.”
Fighting flu: Here’s what you can do
Linda Carroll is a regular contributor to NBCNews.com and TODAY.com. She is co-author of “The Concussion Crisis: Anatomy of a Silent Epidemic” and the recently published “Duel for the Crown: Affirmed, Alydar, and Racing’s Greatest Rivalry”
A neti pot is a ceramic, metal or plastic container that looks like Aladdin’s lamp. You fill the pot with warm salt water (1/4 teaspoon sea salt to 8 ounces warm water), insert the spout in one nostril, lean to one side over a sink and pour in the solution, which will flow out through the opposite nostril. A regular practice of this process, called jala neti, promotes good health.
Jala neti helps clear congestion due to colds, sinus problems and allergies. Because salt is an antiseptic, it helps fight infections in the nasal passages. Jala neti also reduces swelling in the mucous membranes, flushes out the sinuses, unclogs breathing, alleviates headaches, and enhances the senses of hearing, smell, sight and taste.
After you cleanse your nasal passages, the next step is to dry your nose. This step is important, as it clears out the residue and helps prevent infection.
How to Dry
Bend forward so your head faces the floor, and place a paper towel or tissues over your nose to catch any extra solution. Stay in this position for 10 seconds, then stand up and breathe rapidly through your nostrils a few times. Leaning slightly over the sink, close one nostril with one or two fingers and gently blow out the other nostril about 10 times. Repeat on the other nostril. Be careful not to use too much force. Repeat the entire process if you still feel as though there is still water in your nasal passages.
Normally, you only need to use your neti pot once or twice a day, generally, before meals. The best time to do jala neti is when you wake up in the morning, so your breathing is clear for the day. Also do jala neti before lunch, dinner or bedtime.
If you have a cold, sinus problems or allergies, use the neti pot as much as three or four times a day, but always make sure to dry your nose. When your congestion clears, go back to using the neti pot once or twice daily.
When to Stop
If you get a nosebleed, stop using the neti pot and check with your physician about whether or not to continue this process. A nosebleed may occur if you have high blood pressure or have irritation in the nasal passages
Little and colleagues show a modest effect of nasal irrigation in people with recurrent or chronic sinusitis.1 Participants used a neti pot, which delivers the irrigation fluid to the lower part of the nasal cavity.
However, the openings of the sphenoid, ethmoid and frontal sinuses are located at the top of the nasal cavity. Irrigation can only reach these openings when the head is positioned upside down. This can be achieved by instilling the irrigation solution from a syringe, with the head in supine position and then tilted backward into nearly an upside down position, over the edge of a bed or over an exercise ball. When the person sits up, the liquid is drained into a bowl, aided by a vigorous outbreath through the nose. A 60-mL syringe allows for five instillations of c. 12 mL each in a few minutes.
This procedure can be repeated daily when sinus symptoms are present. Liquid spilled over the face needs to be wiped quickly, before it reaches the eyes, lest purulent nasal material cause conjunctivitis. Water should be chlorinated or boiled and cooled to prevent infection, including amoebic meningoencephalitis.2