Recurring sinus infections and severe allergies can cause headaches, facial pressure and post-nasal drip. If you suffer from chronic sinus problems, it may help to irrigate your sinuses with a saltwater solution. One way of flushing your sinuses is with a neti pot, which resembles a small genie lamp. When used properly, this small, ceramic pot thins mucus and flushes out environmental contaminants, bacteria and allergens. Using a saline rinse solution also reduces inflammation and helps reactivate filtering cilia in the nose.
Things You'll Need
Purchase a dilutable, prepackaged saline rinse at the pharmacy, or prepare your own using 8 ozs. of warm water and 1/4 tsp. of non-iodized salt. Mix the salt water solution thoroughly and pour it into your neti pot. Test the water temperature before using the solution, aiming for lukewarm. Hot water can burn sensitive nasal passages, and cold water will feel uncomfortable.
Standing over a sink, turn your head to the side. Insert the neti pot spout into the top nostril, and slowly pour the saline solution into your nose. Breathe out of your mouth, tuck your chin slightly–and relax. With the help of gravity, the solution will flow through your nasal cavity and out of the lower nostril–taking with it a mixture of mucus, dust, pollen and other irritants. Some of the saline may end up in your mouth, but the majority should flow into one nostril and out the other. Switch sides and irrigate the other nostril.
Stand over the sink, bending your head side to side to allow any leftover water to drip out. Hold a tissue lightly to your nose, and blow gently to remove excess mucus and saline solution. You may have to blow your nose several times before your sinuses feel clear, but you should never blow so hard that your Eustachian tubes fill with air.
Clean the neti pot thoroughly after each use. Some are dishwasher safe, while others must be hand-washed. Make sure your nasal irrigation device dries completely between uses to avoid bacteria buildup in the spout.
Use your neti pot as needed–daily when you have a cold, or several times a week to treat chronic sinusitis and allergies.
If the solution burns or is uncomfortable when poured into your nose, try adjusting the salt concentration. Using too much or too little salt can sting the sinuses. Your goal is for the salinity of the solution to match that of your nasal passages.