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MEG Medicine Pantry: Nasal Irrigation


When it comes to nasal irrigation, I am an evangelist. If you’re unfamiliar with the term or the process, nasal irrigation is exactly what it sounds like: removing mucous, dirt, and debris from the nose and sinus cavity using a salt water solution.

Before you say it, no. It’s not like drowning. It’s also not like waterboarding yourself. When done the right way, nasal irrigation is quick, easy, and most important, pain-free. If you’re not convinced, maybe you haven’t had sinus problems that were bad enough yet, but I sure have.

Nasal irrigation can help to relief allergy symptoms, lessen the impact of sinusitis, and help clear the buildup of mucous caused by cold and flu virus. It’s been a total lifesaver for me for years, especially during allergy season, but literally all year long.

The Device

I have used the same old school ceramic Neti Pot (the one in the photo above) for nasal irrigation for more than 20 years, but there are other devices that will accomplish the same result. Plastic versions are less expensive, but I choose to avoid buying plastic when I can help it. There are also battery-operated devices that I have tried and simply wasn’t a fan. If you’re interested in seeking those out, just do a web search for “nasal irrigation devices”.

The Solution

You can purchase ready-made solutions for nasal irrigation, or small packets that you mix with water, but neither are worth the expense, in my opinion. My neti pot solution is simple and quick, using things you’ve probably already got in the kitchen.

  1. Boil 2 cups (1 pint) of filtered water.
  2. Stir in 1 teaspoon of sea salt + 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda until dissolved.
  3. Allow solution to cool until warm to the touch before use.

The Method

My method for nasal irrigation is pretty standard.

  1. I start by filling my neti pot with half of the prepared solution, checking again to make sure the solution is neither too warm or too cold.
  2. I then lean forward so that my head is over the sink and tilt my head to one side. Most folks get by with about a 45° tilt, but I go a bit more, so that one nostril is almost directly over the other.
  3. I insert the tip of the neti pot into the uppermost nostril and slowly pour the solution until it begins to come out the lower nostril.
    NOTE: Keep your mouth open, and breathe through your mouth during this process.
    Continue to pour the solution until the pot is empty, then blow your nose to evacuate the remaining liquid, along with built up mucous, dirt, and debris.
  4. Refill the neti pot with the remaining solution and repeat the process on the other side.

FINAL NOTE: When you are familiarizing yourself with this process, it is completely normal to occasionally have some solution go into your throat. Don’t freak out, just spit it out and try again, leaning your head a bit more forward and down.

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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