Tired of blowing your nose all the time? Say bye to your irritated red and dry nose.
This guy's had enough! He's just told his wife to buy him a Neti pot.
By: Shannon Murphy
Fed up with allergies? Tired of getting sick? Let me introduce you to a technique that’s guaranteed to free you from regularly blowing your nose and reaching for the medicine cabinet. Let me give you a hint… It involves squirting water up your nose.
Now why would I ask you to purposely squirt water up your nose? Well, you better take a seat and read thoroughly – because what I’m about to tell you will blow you away (no pun intended).
Traditional Neti pots
I know it sounds a bit strange, but it’s actually an ancient Hindu practice that is part of a yoga technique called Neti (Neti translates into nasal cleansing.) They use metal, ceramic and glass pots to clean their noses.
Nasal cleansing is very common in other countries because of its great benefits. The western world is embracing this practice – and that’s thanks to celebrity endorsements by Oprah and Dr. Oz. Now, more and more family physicians recommend nasal cleansing to their patients who suffer from nasal conditions.
So, how did I get talked into doing it myself, you ask?
WHY I STARTED SQUIRTING AWAY
It all began when my son turned four years old. The doctor diagnosed him with allergy-induced asthma at age two. He had then gradually maxed out of the allowable dose of Zyrtec (Cetirizine HCl 5mg); an antihistamine used for the relief of runny nose, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, itchy throat or nose.
He couldn’t take any more Zyrtec, and his pulmonologist recommended nasal irrigation. So, now I was faced with trying to get my 4-year old to let me squirt water up his nose. I have enough trouble trying to get him to love broccoli.
Well, after 3 weeks of trying, we were successful and have been religiously irrigating his nose almost daily. It has become part of the bedtime routine…brush teeth, floss, irrigate nose.
After a month, I noticed he wasn’t having allergy symptoms anymore. After six months, I realized he had not had a cold. He’s in preschool and is exposed to viruses often, so it was common to have him come home sick at least once every couple of months.
He was doing so well that I also began irrigating my nose (also an allergy sufferer and had given up on my nasal steroids, which no longer seemed to be working.) My allergy symptoms also improved. I was finally able to relieve my nasal congestion due to allergies without the use of medication! I am now a believer and when given the opportunity, I tell people about the benefits of nasal irrigation. I’m known to only give NeilMed Sinus Rinses during Christmas time. Just kidding! 🙂
SO FAR IT SOUNDS GREAT! HOW DO I START?
There are many different pots available for you to use. It really depends on which one feels most comfortable to you. You can find the squeeze bottles at many drugstores, Walmart, Target, and even in the drug sections of your larger grocery stores. Neti pots can be found at most drugstores.
I bought my Neti pot at Bed, Bath, and Beyond of all places (very random!) Our son’s pulmonologist recommended the Neil Med Sinus Rinse positive pressure squeeze bottle, and that is working fine for us. We’ve been using the squeeze bottle instead of the Neti pot. Personally, I tried the Neti pot, and I didn’t like the pressure I felt in my eyes because you need to tilt your head to the side (felt like my eyes were bulging out!) However, both provide the same benefits and results.
According to Dr. Mehta, founder, inventor, patent-holder and President of NeilMed® Pharmaceuticals, Inc.,“the nose is the only filter to approximately 14,000 liters of air that we breathe every day. In order to keep this air-filter clean, it is necessary to have a routine of daily nasal hygiene.”
He continues to say that “while some amount of mucus production from the nasal and sinus lining is normal, allergies and sinus infections can cause excessive mucus production. This excessive mucus production causes nasal and sinus symptoms such as a runny and stuffy nose or post-nasal drip.
The key to symptom relief is to physically wash away this excess mucus and allergens, such as grass and tree pollen, dust particles, pollutants and bacteria from the nasal passages. This rinsing will reduce inflammation of the mucosa membrane, allowing you to breathe more normally.”
If you’re daring enough to cleanse your child’s nose, NeilMed sells a pediatric size squeeze bottle that contains a smaller opening at the top. This opening makes it easier and gentler to squirt water up your child’s small nostrils.
Dr. Mehta argues that “the biggest limitation of all Neti Pots is that gravity alone cannot create sufficient pressure to wash away all the undesirable mucus and nasal irritants. While it may seem to provide some immediate symptomatic relief, long term relief is unlikely because most of the mucus and associated pathogens remain in place.”
BENEFITS OF NASAL IRRIGATION
The leading benefits of using a nasal cleansing pot include:
- Clears the nostrils to free breathing (which helps in reducing diseases such as asthma and bronchitis!)
- Removes excess mucous
- Reduces pollen or allergens in nasal passages
- Relieves nasal dryness
Other sources such as Advaita Yoga Ashrama (yoga practice website) list additional benefits:
- reduces the frequency and duration of colds
- reduces the symptoms of chronic sinusitis
- flushes the tear ducts and increases eye sight
- improves your sense of smell and taste, is therefore very good if you want to stop smoking
- can be beneficial for some types of ear disorders
- has a harmonizing and calming effect on the mind
Brown University Health Services reports that a couple of minutes a day of nasal irrigation can be more effective than weeks of treatment with antibiotics, decongestants and cortisone nasal sprays.
They recommend that when you are having nasal congestions symptoms, “you may irrigate once in the morning and once at night; after a while you will find out what works best for you. There is no harm in doing it 3-4 times a day if you have copious amounts of drainage. You may continue indefinitely. Some people with allergies find great relief from this.”
See, it's not hard at all.
HOW DO I USE A NETI POT OR A SQUEEZE BOTTLE?
Although I have no problems using the squeeze bottle, I had a problem using the Neti pot. I didn’t enjoy it like the guy in the photo above. Everyone’s different, so try out both and stick with the one that feels most comfortable. It takes several tries to get the technique down, so don’t give up if you end up swallowing a bunch of water the first time! You can find demonstrations on how to use the Neti pot on YouTube.
Most irrigation kits come with salt packets, but when you run out of them, you can save a lot of money by mixing up your own. Non-iodized Kosher or Sea Salt and good old baking soda are recommended for sinus irrigation.
It’s important not to tilt your head too far forward or too far back when pouring the solution into the nasal cavity. Doing so can cause the solution to pour down into your throat or mouth and you may not like it (although it’s safe to digest). Once you have become familiar with how to use the Neti pot, it’s important to use it regularly without overusing it.
WHAT HAPPENS IF CLEANSING MY NOSE BECOMES A HOBBY?
Nasal Cleansing Overuse
A 2009 study performed at Georgetown University and presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s annual meeting suggests that Neti pot overuse could increase the risk of sinus infections. It found that patients who used nasal 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.
Talal Nsouli, MD, who headed the study, explained that “the nasal mucus we have in the nose contains very important immune elements that are the first line of respiratory defense against infections.”
Nsouli doesn’t advise stopping nasal irrigation altogether. He only suggests using it in moderation. He advises using nasal irrigation for no more than one to three weeks while you are having symptoms.
“If your symptoms don’t improve during that time, see your doctor, who can diagnose the underlying problem and get you the appropriate treatment.”
Like any treatment program, using it too much can cause complications, in this case it can overly dry the nasal cavity; create a lasting stinging sensation, or mild nasal irritation. If these symptoms occur with daily Neti pot usage, try limiting use to every other day or once every two to three days.
I hate it when my nose gives me trouble, so I personally use it daily – especially if I’ve been around someone who is sick (I’ve avoided many colds this way!) On days when I feel all right, I use it every two or three days. I haven’t had any problems with regular nasal irrigation and neither has my son.
Keep in mind that the specifics of the study were not included in this WebMD article, such as how many times a day did the participants cleanse their noses, how much water was used during each cleansing, and the saline mixture strength, etc.
It’s extremely important to keep your Neti pot or squeeze bottle clean! Unless of course you like mildew, bacteria and mold. Then in that case, don’t clean it regularly. Those nasty guests won’t even bother visiting IF you clean your pot or bottle with warm to hot water daily.
Once a week, you can wash it with mild soap, including the tip of the pot or removable tip from the squeeze bottle. Dry the outside with a clean towel and allow the pot and lid to air dry separately.
OUCH, THAT STINGS!
Some noses may be more sensitive to the saline strength of pre-made saline packets and may cause redness, over-drying of the nasal cavity, or a lasting stinging sensation. If using a whole pre-made salt package makes the salt solution in the pot or bottle too salty for your nose, try mixing only 3/4 of a package or half a package into the pot using warm water.
You can also make your own salt solution and adjust the salinity as needed. The Mayo Clinic recommends dissolving 1/8 tsp. of table salt into 8 oz. of distilled or purified water.
IS TAP WATER OKAY?
Yeah, tap water is okay, BUT only if you boil it first. Many sources recommend using distilled water or boiled tap water for use in your Neti pot or squeeze bottle.
In the United States, lukewarm tap water appears safe for saline preparation; sterile water or premixed solution is recommended if you are unsure if the tap water is potable. The amount of bacteria in tap water depends on where you live.
Certain organisms may exist in water that can enter your body through your nasal passages. Boiling water for at least 10-15 minutes and letting it cool prior to adding your salt is sufficient for preventing a more serious illness.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
A simple internet search on “nasal cleansing” will provide you with a lot more information. I recommend visiting http://www.nasalcleanse.com/faq.html
where they give a nice list of frequently asked questions to put your mind at ease! I challenge you to try it for a month and truly believe you will feel a difference.
Why waste your precious money any longer on expensive prescriptions, cortisone nasal sprays and decongestants? Your “nose” knows you like saving money, so what are you waiting for? Start blowing water up your nose! 🙂
Now I must excuse myself…I was at the store today and a child sneezed in my direction. Better go cleanse my nose, just in case! Happy Squirting! 🙂