Nasal saline rinse, also known as nasal or sinus irrigation, is commonly recommended to manage the symptoms of sinusitis -- the swelling and inflammation of the sinus tissues. Sinusitis can be related to cold symptoms, allergies or other conditions which cause the nasal passages to become blocked and filled with fluid. An often used tool for this irrigation is a neti pot, which can help flush mucus -- and irritants such as dirt, dust and pollen -- out of these nasal passages. Alternatively, nasal irrigation bottles can be used. This home treatment can offer nasal or sinus symptom relief -- though severe or longstanding symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor.
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Steps for Using Your Neti Pot
Clean your neti pot thoroughly with soap and water. This is an important step because the neti pot or nasal irrigation bottles can harbor bacteria, and improper cleaning can risk recurrent infection. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that distilled, sterile or boiled and cooled tap water be used to clean neti pots or any other devices used to provide saline rinses. The pot should be air dried or dried inside with a paper towel.
Wash your hands. Mix together 1 teaspoon of non-iodized salt with 2 cups warm water in a clean glass. Adding salt to the water helps prevent irritation when the fluid goes through your nasal passages, because the added salt makes the rinse more similar to your own nasal and sinus fluids. Add a pinch of baking soda, a buffering agent that also helps prevent irritation. Alternately, you can use a commercial salt made specifically for neti pot use. Stir the solution with a spoon until the salt and baking soda dissolve into the water. Place the mixture into the clean neti pot.
According to the Food And Drug Administration (FDA), nasal or sinus irrigation involves these steps: -- Lean over a sink and tilt your head to one side, so that your ear is facing the sink. Your forehead and chin should be level to prevent liquid flowing into your mouth. -- While breathing through your open mouth, place the spout of the filled neti pot into your upper nostril. The liquid will drain through your nasal cavity and out your lower nostril. -- Blow your nose, clearing our nostrils, then rinse out the opposite nostril by repeating this procedure on the other side.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Is Rinsing Your Sinuses Safe?
- The Laryngoscope: The Clinical Significance of Nasal Irrigation Bottle Contamination
- Clinical Infectious Diseases: Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis Deaths Associated With Sinus Irrigation Using Contaminated Tap Water
- Canadian Medical Association Journal: Effectiveness of Steam Inhalation and Nasal Irrigation for Chronic or Recurrent Sinus Symptoms in Primary Care: A Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial
- American Rhinologic Society: Nasal/Sinus Irrigation