Sunday, November 8, 2009

It Can't Hurt

For the past few weeks I've been having annoying sinus issues. No infections; just intermittent pressure and headaches. Allergy medicine takes care of the problem, but I was getting tired of relying on it. An acquaintance asked me if I'd tried using a neti pot. I hadn't, but based on her recommendation, I thought it might be a good idea. Today I went to my local drug store, bought a neti pot, and used it for the first time.

The neti pot is a small pot used for irrigating the nasal passages with saline solution. It looks like a small teapot with an extra-long spout. They can be made from many materials: ceramic, glass, stainless steel, copper, or plastic. The process has been used for hundreds of years; historically neti pots were used in yoga to assist in clearing the nasal passages, since controlled breathing plays a central role in the discipline. You can't breathe well if your nose is stuffed up!

The use of a neti pot requires mixing up a saline solution (salt and water) that gets poured through the nasal passages. I purchased a "system" that consisted of a plastic pot, packets of powdered saline solution, and a small plastic spoon to mix the solution. According to the packaging, using the system would provide relief for "...nasal congestion, sinus infections, allergies, dry air, post-nasal drip, and rhinitis". Sounded encouraging.

The steps:
  • Prepare the saline solution--a packet of powdered saline in warm water.
  • Stand in front of the sink, bend over, and breathe through your mouth. This closes the passage from the nose to the mouth so water can't get into your mouth or throat.
  • Put the tip of the pot into one of your nostrils so that there's a comfortable seal. The directions recommended starting with the right nostril; however, since I'm left handed I figured it would be better to start with that side.
  • Gently bend your head forward and roll it to the left (right for me) side. The left (right) nostril should be the lowest point. Your forehead should be higher than your chin .
  • The water will enter the upper nostril, and after a few seconds pour out of the lower one.
  • Repeat the process on the other side.
  • After all the water is used, exhale through both nostrils to remove the extra water, then blow your nose to remove the last of the excess mucus and solution.
When I finished the process I didn't feel much of an effect, but after 20 minutes I had substantially less mucous running down the back of my throat. The directions say it can be used as often as every two hours. I know I won't be doing it anywhere near that often!


  1. I saw the amazing Amy Sedaris use one - I think on Conan's old show - and I was super intrigued. This season they have them @ our local Zellers, but it seems too expensive for something that might not work.

  2. Sydney,

    I've only used the pot for a few days (morning and evening), but I REALLY like the way it cleans out my sinuses! I think I may be a convert.

    (BTW, I only paid $15 at my local Walgreens; that was for the brand name because the store brand was sold out. The box of replacement saline packets seems pricy, so I think I'll experiment with kosher salt when I run out of the packets that came with my kit.

  3. I wasn't thinking you had to have special stuff to put in the pot - I thought you just made your own - salt is pretty cheap. At Zellers they are clocking in @ about $25, which I think is a little steep. They really freak out Joseph though, so I might spend some of my birthday money on one...

    My allergies feel much relieved today though and I very rarely get sick.