Why Use Non-Iodized Salt in a Neti Pot?

Used for hundreds of years, the teapot-shaped neti pot is a device used to irrigate nasal passages. Neti pots are an inexpensive and an easy way to soothe the misery of a cold. For best results, do not add anything like iodized salt to a neti pot that may cause irritation and always consult a doctor before use. According to James T. Li, M.D., of the the MayoClinic.com, a neti pot can also be used to treat allergies and sinus problems

Salt being scooped out of a container by a measuring spoon. (Image: Benjamin Miner/iStock/Getty Images)

Function

A neti pot is a specially designed container which is used to rinse the nasal and sinus cavities. To use it correctly, tilt your head sideways over a sink, and use the spout of the neti pot to pour water or saltwater solution into the upper nostril. The water will flow out the lower nostril, instructs Li. Repeat the wash on the other side. Neti pots can be purchased in plastic, ceramic and stainless steel.

Conditions Treated

Sinus problems, colds and allergies all cause nasal congestion that can be treated with irrigation using a neti pot. According to Ann Mullen, R.N., M.S., a nasal rinse cleans the nose of allergens, mucous and bacteria. The University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine distributed a questionnaire to family physicians. Ninety-one percent of respondents used nasal irrigation for chronic rhinosinusitis. 67 percent reported using nasal irrigation for acute bacterial rhinosinusitus and 66 percent prescribed irrigation for seasonal allergies.

Irrigation Solution

Warm salt water is used in a neti pot. Use 1/2 tsp. of uniodized salt mixed with 8 oz. of warm water. Use uniodized salt because the iodized version can irritate nasal passages, according to Mullen. In addition, some people are sensitive to iodine. Saline solution can also be purchased at a drugstore. Timothy Mccall, M.D., reports that the salt helps draw mucus out of the nose. He suggests that if you have high blood pressure, heart problems or are sensitive to salt, use plain water.

Health Benefits

Decreased swelling is a benefit of irrigation. Clearing the small sinus openings may prevent a bacterial sinus infection. Using a neti pot can eliminate the need for over-the-counter cold and nasal congestion remedies. Nasal irrigation decreases drainage from the nose that can make allergies and asthma worse.

Considerations

Always follow the advice of a physician regarding the use of nasal irrigation. Cleanliness is extremely important when using a neti pot. Introduction of bacteria into nasal passages is likely to make any problem worse. Wash your hands before preparing saline solution. Make a new batch of solution for each use. After use, rinse the neti pot with water and allow it to dry on a clean towel. If you wish to disinfect the neti pot clean it with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and rinse well, advises Mullen.

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