According to Wikipedia some of the earliest records of neti pot nasal irrigation are found “in the ancient Hindu practice of Ayurveda”. Traced back to the Vedic scriptures, the use of the neti pot was part of daily personal hygiene.
I honestly had no idea of the history surrounding this interesting process. I just started practicing nasal irrigation because I often experienced sinus headaches or the annoying stuffy nose. It also came highly recommended by a local vocal coach. He swore by nasal irrigation as a method of surviving the winter cold season. Swishing a warm saline solution through his nasal cavities once in the morning and again at night washed any lingering germs right down the drain.
If it’s good enough for Mr. Dickerson, it’s good enough for me!
Warning, this is not necessary a “neat” process nor is it something you should try to administer to children. You may get saline solution all over the counter and up your sleeves. My husband only resorts to the nasal irrigation after the dustiest day spent raking leaves. Even then he takes it to the shower with him.
Today, you can find all manner of neti pot devices at your local drug store and the Internet has scads of nasal irrigation solution recipes.
Being the “homemade” kind of mom that I am, I prefer to re-use, recycle and re-purpose things I already have around the house. Instead of buying a neti pot or one of the fancier contraptions I’ve seen lately, I’ve re-purposed small rubber bulb syringes. You know, like the ones we used to gently remove mucus from the nose of a child too young to understand the word “BLOW”? Oh the memories!
Anyway – prep by blowing your nose to remove as much mucus as you can. Keep an extra tissue (or hanky) handy for the post-irrigation nose blow. Fill up your bulb with solution. If you prefer, warm it carefully and test before using; liquid should not be hot. Lean over the sink (or stand in the shower), tilt your head and forcefully squirt that saline solution up your nose. While leaning to the left, squirt into the right nostril. Switch sides and repeat. If done correctly, it should come drizzling out of both sides of your nose. I find it works best if I gently insert the bulb as far into my nostril as possible and block my throat with the back of my tongue. This helps route more solution between my nostrils and less down my throat. You are probably going to be better at this on one side than the other but make it a habit to switch anyway. When you are done, even the stuffiest of noses will be rewarded with the ability to blow your nose.
Honestly, it’s the little things sometimes. What a relief!
Note: while you may be ok with sharing a bulb syringe with your loved ones (eww), at the very least you need to pull boiling or HOT tap water through it to sanitize it before next use. I’ve procured additional syringes over the years so everyone can have his/her own. They often come in inexpensive, commercial ear-cleaning kits.
Click here for a Nasal Irrigation Solution made from everyday ingredients (adapted from a Kansas City Star article written by Karen Uhlenhuth and attributed to KC Area ENT Specialist Gary Shaw).
Make up a quick batch, grab the rubber bulb, roll up your sleeves and begin! Your nose will thank you for it! And keep another tissue handy. The solution will often surprise you and wait to completely drain from your nasal cavities until you’re in the middle of “downward dog” pose in yoga class 🙂
InJoy! ~ M