There are two common reasons to use a Neti Pot & practice nasal irrigation:
- You have seasonal allergies and suffer from congestion, runny/itchy eyes, runny/itchy nose, difficulty sleeping due to stuffiness and inability to breathe, etc. As a result, this can lead to an over-reliance on antihistamine medications or nasal sprays. The regular use and benefit of a Neti pot is to remove allergens that may be sitting in your sinus cavities. This will help to reduce your allergenic load, your overall symptoms as well as your need for medications. We house these lung tunnels from our nose into our skull framed by turbinates. Over time we build up pollen, dander, dust or bacteria that sit inside the nasal cavities formed by turbinates and sinuses that trigger the histamine response.
Regular practice at the Neti pot or nasal irrigation helps to remove these offensive allergens, reduce the inflammatory response and thus reduce your allergy symptoms. (Sometimes over-reliance of decongestant nasal sprays alone can cause turbinate swelling and actually add to the problem).
- You are a healthcare worker and would like to keep both you and your patients safe. There is clinical evidence to support the regular use of Neti pot in healthcare workers as this prevents transmission of bacterial and viral pathogens. Up to 90% of healthcare providers carry pathogens in their nasal cavities and this can act as a source of transmission from one patient to the next.
Once-a-week use of Neti pot has been found to reduce this risk of spread. In another randomized controlled trial, nasal irrigation and gargling with hypertonic saline was found to reduce the duration of the common cold by 1.9 days and reduce transmission within the household by 35% by reducing viral shedding when done within 48 hours of symptom onset. While nasal irrigation trials are currently underway as a preventive method for COVID-19 specifically, there’s good reason to suspect nasal irrigation might be a helpful tool during the pandemic too.
General Steps for how to use a Neti Pot for Nasal Irrigation:
STEP 1 – Your Supplies
- Ceramic Neti Pot (source: health food store, pharmacy or online)
- Non-iodized salt or Nasal cleansing salts: 1/2 tsp total (1/4 teaspoon per cup)
- 2 cups of Sterile water – boiled 3 to 5 minutes, brought down to a lukewarm or room temperature.
- Stir in ¼ teaspoon salts to 1 cup lukewarm sterile water, dissolve in Neti Pot.
Please be advised not to use tap water. There are bacteria and protozoa in tap water that can be problematic – Always use sterile water. I would like to note that water filtered by a Brita device is NOT acceptable for for nasal irrigation use.
STEP 2 – The Procedure
- Start over a sink or large basin.
- Lean forward for the whole duration of rinsing. Turn your head 90°. Insert the Neti pot spout into the nasal cavity open to the ceiling and ensure you have a good seal and start pouring.
- Breathe through your mouth as you fill up the sinus cavity on one side and drain out the other side until you have completely emptied the tea pot (or one cup of water with a quarter teaspoon of salt solution).
- Gently exhale through the nostrils with some tissue
STEP 3 – Repeat
- Repeat on the other side!
- Water that has been boiled for 3-5 minutes and then cooled to lukewarm or room temperature or sterile water is the most important measure you can take with nasal irrigation. Tap water, Brita-filtered water and bottled water are all known to contain a small, but potentially dangerous, number of bacteria and Protozoa that can cause infection.
- Practice neti pot in the evenings, at home. On occasion, 5-20 minutes after you’re done your treatment you can have some residual water draining. This would be unfortunate if you were in your car and driving to work!
- If you are so congested and can’t drain from one side to the other, do not fret. Simply fill up one side and drain that same side. Then repeat on the other side. Hopefully after a few nights of nasal irrigation, eventually you’ll be able to clear the sinuses and pass water all the way through!
Feel free to contact us for further allergy treatments and advice on your seasonal allergies, chronic sinusitis and nasal congestion.