Sunday, October 19, 2008

Neti Pots

I recently discovered the Neti Pot. I had seen them in the stores and thought they were a little frightening: You put that in your nose?! Why would you do that?

Prone to sinus headaches throughout the year, I found myself suffering from another horrid sinus headache that could not be relieved no matter how many meds I took, steaming facials I gave myself, or how much heat I applied to my face. I gave in and bought a neti pot.

This is how it works:
  1. Fill the neti pot to the line indicated by the manufacturer with lukewarm distilled water or water that has been boiled and cooled down.
  2. Add the packet of saline solution provided or mixture you have made yourself (see recipe below). Make sure the solution has dissolved in the water.
  3. Tilt your head down and to one side and insert the spout of the neti pot in the nostril that is higher up. So if you tilt your head to the left, you'll put the neti pot in your right nostril.
  4. Remember to breath out your mouth and let the water in the neti pot pour into your nostril and drain out the other. (This will feel very strange and maybe even scary. It reminded me of getting water up my nose when I go swimming. But there is no sharp, pulsating pain unless you end up accidentally snorting the water up into your sinuses. This should not happen, though, if you remain calm and remember to breathe through your mouth.)
  5. After you have let about half of the solution has drained through one nostril, remove the neti pot from your nostril and let any excess drain out your nostrils. You may even tilt your head slowly from side-to-side.
  6. If you like, lightly blow your nose. Spit out any solution that may have drained into your mouth.
  7. Repeat steps 3-6, but using the opposite nostril.
  8. Blow your nose when finished using the neti pot, but do so very lightly. The pressure in your ears will feel weird if you use any strength.
The neti pot works with gravity. If you do not have your head tilted forward down enough, you may have the solution drain down into your mouth and maybe into your throat. If this happens, bend your head down further in to the sink or bowl you are using.

Always make sure your neti pot is clean and the tools and storage containers you use with/for it are clean. I personally use a plastic neti pot because it was more affordable and have heard a lot of stories about the ceramic neti pots breaking.

Here are some recipes I have found that you can use to make your own saline sinus rinse solution. I have not personally made my own recipe yet because I still have the packets of the sinus rinse solution provided with the neti pot I bought.

  • Mix a heaping ¼ tsp of finely ground non-iodized salt or a slightly rounded ½ tsp of coarsly ground salt in the neti pot with 8oz of warm water until the salt is completely dissolved.

  • Combine 1 teaspoon of sea salt to one cup of warm water into the bottle and shake it lightly until the salt is completely dissolved. The smaller the granules of salt, the faster it will dissolve. This is enough saline solution for one nostril.

  • 1 cup warm water
    1/4 teaspoon salt (no iodine)
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon glycerin (to help keep my nose from getting too dry)

    Mix ingredients everything dissolves

  • Find a measuring spoon that matches the amount in the pre-mixed packets so you know how much to use and get an air tight container to store the mixture in.

    Using canning/pickling salt or kosher salt that does not have any additives and regular baking soda. Mix 3 parts of salt with 1 part baking soda. Mix it up well, and store it in the airtight container. You can adjust the balance of salt to baking soda to find a comfortable ratio.

  • Mix one cup warm water with 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon non-iodized salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. This is enough for cleansing both nostrils.