When allergies or a cold are causing your sinus to be stuffed a great natural solution is a neti pot. A neti pot is a nasal irrigation system that flushes out excess mucus and allergins. If you have never used a neti pot before it is a simple and powerful tool for clearing out your sinuses.
Over the years the options for nasal irrigation have increased. This is a list of some of the best neti pot options and instructions on how to use a neti pot.
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How to Use a Neti Pot
- Fill the neti pot with clean water. Distilled or previously boiled and cooled water.
- Add salt mix and gently mix.
- Once the mixture is ready tilt your head forward. Angle one nostril up.
- Place the neti pot spout in the nostril that is facing up. Pour or squeeze the neti pot until the liquid begins to fill up your nostril.
- Keep breathing through the process. Breath out your mouth while flushing your sinuses. The liquid should flow into one nostril and into the other. Occasionally if there is a large amount of congestion liquid may come out of the mouth.
- Continue to flush about half of the solution.
- Gently blow your nose.
- Repeat with the opposite nostril.
When using the kind of nasal irrigation that puts liquid in one side and sucks it out the other the process is slightly different. Simply prepare according to directions place in nostrils and turn on.
Neti Pot Safety
- Always use sterile water. Distilled water or previously boiled and cooled water. There can be a microbe in the water and shooting it up into your nose could cause major problems.
- Clean your neti pot after each use.
- Replace as necessary. No matter how well you clean it eventually it will need to be replaced. Watch carefully to make sure mold doesn’t start to grow. Any signs of mold or discoloration throw it out and replace it.
- Use lukewarm water when using. Very cold or hot water will cause discomfort when using your neti pot.
- Stop using if you find it increases your sinus pressure. Water doesn’t come out after going in one side. Be extra careful if you have ever had sinus surgery, have sinus inflammation, or have had a broken nose.
- Don’t use a neti pot on an infant.
- Use with the guidance of a pediatrician if using with a child.
- Don’t share your neti pot.
Neti Pot Solutions
Make Your Own Normal Saline
I have never made my own but Healthline recommends using 2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of salt (use a non-iodized salt like this one), and a pinch of baking soda (this is optional but it helps balance the ph of the solution). Make sure everything is dissolved and use within 24 hours. Keep it in the frig for those 24 hours and then discard any that is leftover.
This is a solution with more salt in it. There are a few advantages to this. The higher salt can actually pull fluid from the sinuses. If you have chronic inflammation in your sinuses this could help decongest you and improve airflow.
It could help improve cell function. Some studies suggest a hypertonic solution could improve ciliary beat frequency.
Hypertonic saline nasal irrigation when used daily has been shown to improve symptoms. It also can decrease the amount of medication needed to control allergies.
To make a hypertonic solution you can buy special extra strenth sinus rinse packs. An easier way to do it is simply to add two packs of a normal cheaper sinus rinse or when making your own increase the salt content.
You may want to would avoid adding more than double the regular amount since this can sting a little. Try gradually increasing the salt content to get used to the higher salt content.
Extras that can be added to nasal irrigation
When the normal saline just isn’t doing the job there are a few additives you can try.
Essential oils – There are some pre-formulated varieties with essential oils and moisturizers. This one is supposed to help with anti-microbial properties and moisturizes.
Xylitol – Ok I know it’s a sugar substitute why should you be putting it in your nose? This study states that xylitol in nasal irrigation produces better results than saline irrigation alone. It was tolerated well by participants in the study. When saline isn’t enough trying xylitol with it could be helpful.
Types of Nasal Irrigation (Neti Pots)
Nasal irrigation by gravity
There is the basic kind that works by gravity. These are the typical pots most people think of when a neti pot is mentioned. it can be plastic or ceramic. There is a wide variety of these that have come out.
Some people prefer the ceramic and put it through the dishwasher. Eventually, it can break from repeated runs through the dishwasher but since anything used for nasal irrigations should be replaced eventually it may be worth it for some.
The pros to this type are they are pretty cheap. Also, this kind is easy to use. There are many different options to choose from.
The cons for this kind are some of the pots are smaller and not a full 8oz. Ceramic may break easily if dropped. There is no extra pressure to help clear your sinuses when really congested.
Positive Pressure Nasal Irrigation
This kind creates some pressure by either squeezing a bottle or pumping water through your sinuses. These also come in a variety of different forms.
The simplest is a plastic bottle that is squeezed and the solution is pushed into the nostril. Some may prefer this so they can control the pressure by hand.
There are also pump ones that will pump the saline into the nose. The flow is more consistent and can be more comfortable. If you need a little pressure but don’t want to manually do it this is a good option. These are more expensive but some people prefer the consistent pressure.
There are many options. This one is on the cheaper side and easy to replace as needed. The stand for drying out the bottle is convenient and helps it to dry better in-between uses.
Nasal Irrigation with Suction
These are a device that pumps the saline into your nose and has suction out the other side. Those with very congested sinuses may find this works better for them to get the solution all the way through and to empty the saline better.
This device is expensive. Not only is the device expensive but there are pods required for the saline solution. The cost of the pods also adds up quickly. Unless you truly need the extra suction one of the cheaper models may be a better option.
Even though I recommend the cheaper models this nasal irrigation is effective. We do own one and when allergies are severe. It does work very well, but unless your allergies are intense any of the cheaper options should be fine.
- Using a neti pot for allergies or a cold can dramatically improve nasal congestion.
- Be careful when using it so you don’t create more of a problem.
- Always use sterile water! No one wants a brain-eating microbe in their nose.
- If normal saline isn’t enough for you there are plenty of other options to try. Everyone is different and it just may take a little trial and error to find what works for you.
Nasal irrigation is a great tool that can help with nasal congestion and allergy problems. But if you need extra help during allergy season here are a few other options to help:
Disclaimer – Medical advice is not provided in this article. This article simply reflects my opinions and experiences. Consult a healthcare provider before adding any supplements or making lifestyle changes.