Nasal irrigation refers to the rinsing of the nasal cavity with warm saline (salt water). A saline rinse not only removes excess mucus, allergens, and infectious agents, but it also helps to moisten the mucous membranes of the nose and sinuses. Nasal irrigation may also improve breathing and enhance the senses of taste and smell. Moreover, many people perform it as a precursor to yoga or meditation practice, which both rely heavily on deep breathing.
The History of the Neti Pot
While nasal irrigation has only recently become popular in the United States, it has been practiced for thousands of years in India. The ancient yogic technique of Jala Neti means “nasal cleansing.“ Practitioners of Jala Neti use a device called a neti pot to rinse out the nose. Shaped like Aladdin's lamp, a neti pot allows you to flow saline into one nostril, through the sinus cavity, and out of the other nostril.
These days in India and South Asia, the use of the neti pot is just as common as use of the toothbrush. Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Mehmet Oz, well-known doctors and frequent guests on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” have recently helped to popularize the neti pot in the West.
How to Use a Neti Pot
Pouring salt water down your nostril may seem a little strange or even gross, but it's the best way to clean out your nose. Remember, excess mucus provides the ideal breeding ground for infection. So forget about the fact that nasal irrigation may seem a little odd at first. Once you try a neti pot, you'll truly appreciate its ability to clear out the sinuses.
First, prepare a solution of saline. Combine ¼ teaspoon of non-iodized neti pot salt with lukewarm water. Mix the solution well, so that the salt is completely dissolved.
Lean over the sink and tilt your head to one side. Pour the saline into your upper nostril. Breathe through your mouth and remain relaxed. Let gravity usher the saline through your sinuses and out of your lower nostril. Experiment by tilting your head to find the ideal angle for drainage. Repeat this process with your other nostril, and finish by blowing your nose.
When done correctly, nasal irrigation should be reminiscent of a dip in the ocean — and not uncomfortable at all. If you feel a burning or stinging sensation, then you probably mixed too much salt into the saline solution.
Remember to wash your neti pot with soap and hot water and dry it thoroughly after each use.
Nasal Irrigation for Allergies
The neti pot is especially beneficial for seasonal allergy sufferers. When you inhale pollen grains, they get stuck in your nasal mucus, where they cause allergic reactions. Nasal irrigation will rinse away the pollen grains to provide allergy relief.
Neti pots help with perennial allergies, too. For example, if you're allergic to dust mites, a saline rinse in the morning will help to remove the allergens that accumulated in your nose overnight.
Nasal Irrigation for Sinusitis
Nasal irrigation is helpful in the treatment and prevention of sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis may be caused by bacteria or fungus, or a combination of both. When mucus builds up in your sinuses, it provides an inviting habitat for these impurities. A neti pot rinses away excess mucus as well as infectious agents.
The neti pot also restores moisture to irritated nasal membranes. For this reason, it's often recommended to people who have had sinus surgery.
Nasal Irrigation for Colds
When it comes to the common cold, a neti pot will clear up congestion and wash away the viruses that cause colds. Many people use a neti pot at the first sign of a cold to eliminate the cold virus before it has a chance to fully take hold.
Nasal Irrigation for Children
Many cold medications are not safe for young children, but nasal irrigation is all-natural and perfectly safe. It has no side effects. Our customers have used neti pots on children as young as 2-years-old with no problems.
Nasal Irrigation for Improved Quality of Life
Many musicians and athletes use neti pots to improve breathing skills and enhance performance. However, the neti pot is most beneficial to those of us who suffer from allergies or chronic sinus problems. Nasal irrigation quickly and safely clears out the sinuses, so that you can breathe better. As the American Lung Association says, “When you can't breathe, nothing else matters.“
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