Summer is gone. The air is colder and drier. For many people, the transition from fall allergies to the cold and flu season that accompanies winter is complete. In other words, we are entering the season of illness and doctor’s visits. There is, however, something that you can do to help keep yourself out of your doctor’s office. Use a neti pot or other nasal irrigation system.
What Is a Neti Pot?
A neti pot is a nasal and sinus rinsing tool. Quite literally, it is a little pot that greatly resembles a tea pot. Once the pot is filled with warm, salty water; you tilt your head and rinse out the mucous or debris that has been clogging your sinuses.
Personally, I didn’t think I had the coordination to be able to operate a neti pot. I’m quite uncomfortable with things going up my nose, so I wasn’t sure I would be able to embrace that experience enough to relax, tilt my head, and let it flow. Instead, I went with a nasal irrigation system.
My nasal irrigation system that I selected resembles a large squirt bottle. I mix my saline solution, stand upright with my head slightly rotated, and use the squirt bottle to force water up my nose. My husband likens it to a small, saline fire hose blasting away boogers. (He is quite poetic sometimes.)
Benefits of Using a Neti Pot
However, the removal of snot is not the only benefit of using a neti pot. Here are some others:
- Save yourself a doctor’s visit. DrAxe.com says,”According to one study of 330 actively practicing family physicians, 87 percent recommended saline nasal irrigation (which is what you do with a neti pot) as part of their treatment recommendations for the following health issues: chronic sinus infections (91 percent), acute bacterial sinus infections (67 percent), rhinitis (stuffy nose) resulting from seasonal allergies (66 percent), viral upper respiratory infections (59 percent), other allergic rhinitis (48 percent), irritant-based congestion (48 percent), and rhinitis due to pregnancy (17 percent).”
- With cleaner nasal passages, you may have increased senses of smell and taste. It stands to reason that without all that goop in your nose, you would smell better. However, you may not realize how closely your sense of smell works with your sense of taste. Check it out the next time you have a stuffy nose.
- Daily use of a neti pot can help prevent illness. Think about it. Once a day, you’re running a salt water solution through your nostrils and sinuses to wash away undesirable content, which can include bacteria. Plus, with this added humidity, the climate in your nostrils changes and makes it less more difficult for bacteria, viruses, or inflammation to take hold.
- It could help get rid of your snoring. Of course, this will only work if your snoring is caused by sinus congestion. If you have sleep apnea or some other condition that causes snoring as a symptom, I highly doubt that neti pot usage will have any impact on your condition.
How Do You Use a Neti Pot
With all the wonderful benefits from neti pot usage, you may be wondering how to actually use a neti pot. First, let me explain that the directions that follow, while specifically tailored for the neti pot, are also applicable to nasal irrigation systems similar to the one I use.
1. Clean your neti pot.
If you’re just bringing it out for the season or pulling it right out of the box, you need to clean your neti pot. Warm, soapy water will do the trick. Then, it needs to dry completely. This will prevent bacterial growth.
2. Mix your saline solution.
Mix a quarter teaspoon of non-iodized salt or half a teaspoon of a coarse salt, like kosher salt, with filtered or distilled water. Personally, I like the pre-measured salt packets sold by the company that created my nasal irrigation system. Regardless of what salt you use, you will need to mix your salt with distilled, bottled, or filtered water. (Tap water can contain amoebas, which will make you sick.)
3. Assume the position.
Make sure you’re completely over the sink, and turn your head so your ear is facing the sink. Keep your forehead and your chin at the same height. Relax your throat, and breathe through your mouth.
4. Pour the solution into your top nostril.
Keep relaxed as the solution runs from your nostril, through your sinuses, and out the other nostril. You want to use half the pot on this side. Be aware that sometimes, if your nostril or sinuses are really blocked, the solution will run out your mouth. Do not under any circumstances swallow the drainage instead of letting it run into the sink.
5. Now, do the other side.
Repeat the process for the other side, using the remainder of the solution.
6. Level your head and gently blow the rest of the solution out of your nose.
Remember, gentle blowing is the key. When you can breathe (at least somewhat) through both nostrils, you are done.
7. Blow your nose gently into a tissue.
Do not apply pressure or close either nostril while blowing; you don’t want to send anything that you want to remove further up your nostril.
8. Clean your neti pot.
You want to be ready for next time especially in cold, flu, or allergy season.
Neti Pot Purchase and Care
In addition to being sold on Amazon and numerous other website, neti pots are sold in most drug stores. For example, I bought a NeilMed Sinus Rinse from Walgreens. This is a plastic unit that can be discarded when it gets filthy or after it has been used for its purpose.
Many people with neti pots have a personal preference about which type of pot to use. Be aware that neti pots can be made of many different materials, so feel free to look around and play. Finding a pot that feels right in your hand and your nose will greatly enhance your neti pot experience.
Once you have your pot, clean it with warm, soapy water. After it is clean, allow it to completely air dry. This will prevent any germs or bacteria from growing in it. Then, you will be ready to use your new, clean neti pot.
I wonder, if we regularly used a neti pot this fall and winter, would our overall health improve? Would we reduce our number of sick days and doctor visits? Let’s give it a try!
Do you use your neti pot regularly? Have you noticed any health benefits from it? Let us know in the comments below.
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