You’ve probably heard of it, may even know someone who does it. It’s certainly not the most glamorous thing, although I am highly amused at the number of people who have posted pictures of themselves doing it on Flickr. What am I talking about? Why, nasal passage irrigation, of course!
Most people do this using a neti pot. WebMD has a great write-up about why & how it works, so I’ll let them do the in-depth talking. Basically, you’re cleansing & moisturizing your “nasal passages” (what a crude phrase!) & sinuses by running warm water mixed with a bit of salt through one nostril & out the other. Sounds gross, doesn’t it? I won’t lie to you, it is a bit gross. But the results are definitely worth it!
I took the plunge last March. In addition to mild-to-annoying allergies each spring & fall, once winter hits, I practically live on Kleenex & rarely can breathe out of both nostrils at once. I don’t find either experience terribly fun, so when I heard about it, I thought I’d give it a try. After almost ten months, I can honestly tell you that I love it! Last spring was apparently a brutal allergy season, but I didn’t notice a thing. My stash of Claritin lies in my medicine drawer, heading for an expiration date. Same thing during the fall months. So far this winter, I’ve been breathing easy.
There are tons of demonstration videos online, so I won’t go into all the details. But I promise it’s easy, painless, & at times amusing!
Here are some observations & tips from my experience:
» You gotta use the salt they make for these things (usually labeled “neti pot salt” or something similar), you can’t just use table salt. All the stuff we use for cooking has an anti-caking agent added, & you do not want that stuff in your nose!
» It’s true what they say – if you don’t get the angle right, it’ll either come right back out the same nostril or fall into your throat. The angles you see in the videos & images are all wildly different, so go by feel, & not what you see.
» This was probably the most helpful information I found when I started out, & directly contributed to my next point: if you feel like you’ve been swimming in a pool, you need to use more salt.
» I don’t use the full amount of water, & actually use a bit more salt than the recommended amount. When you first start, you’ll probably have to experiment a bit with what is good for you. This is just what I found worked for me!
» Use warm, but not hot or cold water. You’ll find the temperature that’s just right for you, because if you go just a touch too warm or cold, your sinuses will let you know. It’s… not a pleasant sensation. When it’s the correct temperature, you barely feel a thing.
» This one actually cracks me up every time it happens, possibly because it’s a bit ticklish: every once in a while, when I bend over or nod my head just right, a little trickle of water (usually just a tiny drop) will come out my nose. It literally makes me laugh every time, even though I should probably be embarrassed. I don’t actually think anyone has ever noticed, as I just grab a Kleenex & go about my business, but yeah. Consider this your warning. Since I backed off how much water I use, this happens less frequently. But I also work in a library, where I’m frequently bending over to get the lower shelves, so you may never experience this!
Otherwise, I think that’s it! I love my neti pot, even if my husband shakes his head every time he sees me using it. I definitely encourage everyone to try it. Do you use one? Share your experience in the comments!