You can feel a sinus infection as soon as it hits … pressure, discomfort and misery. Even thinking about one might make your teeth ache. Treatments for sinus infections range from antibiotics to surgery. But now there is also a traditional remedy that’s getting more attention after recent research shows it to have promise … the neti pot.
The neti pot is a ceramic or plastic container that looks like Aladdin’s magic lamp. People use it to flush out their nasal cavities with a saline rinse (nasal irrigation). Recent research has shown it may work to reduce symptoms of sinus infections, and to relieve associated headaches. It also helped people use fewer over-the-counter medications. Doctors say nasal irrigation is worth trying if you suffer from persistent or recurring sinus infections … but be warned … it feels weird. The sensation of having water in your nose makes some people feel a bit claustrophobic until they master the technique.
How Do You Use a Neti Pot?
There aren’t any official medical guidelines, but Neti pots usually come with an insert that explains how to use them. You can also make an appointment with our doctors to talk you through the process before trying it on your own. Here are few tips:
- Use distilled water for safety, rather than tap.
- Add a saline solution (that comes pre-measured with your kit).
- Bring the water to room temperature before using it, so it’s lukewarm to the touch.
- Tip your head over a sink. The fluid should flow through your nasal cavity and out the opposite nostril.
- There’s no need to fire hose your nose. It’s the volume of the fluid that’s cleaning out your sinuses, not the pressure.
- When you start, hold your breath so you don’t shoot water into your airway.
- Expect to make a mess. It’s a sign you are doing it right.
- When you are done, gently blow your nose to get rid of any remaining liquid.
- Clean your device after each use and allow it to air dry. Clean it regularly with soap and water to prevent bacterial growth, and replace it every few months.
For any patient seeking to reduce sinus infection symptoms, experts advise sticking with nasal irrigation for long enough to determine if it’s effective – even if it feels a little weird at first. If nasal rinses aren’t working, it will be important to speak with our specialists to determine if you have sinusitis, or perhaps another related issue instead.
The neti pot is generally safe to use. About 10% of regular users experience mild side effects, such as nasal irritation and stinging. Reducing the amount of salt in the solution, adjusting the frequency of Neti pot use, and changing the temperature of the water reduces side effects. Neti pots are available over-the-counter at many drug stores, health food stores, and online retailers. They usually cost between $10 and $20.
A stuffy nose is an annoying, distracting, and very common problem. Most of us get an occasional stuffy nose from viral infections (such as a cold), from allergies, or as a side-effect of pregnancy. Inflammation and swelling inside the nose make you feel stuffed up and uncomfortable. Mucus and drainage may also join the party. You don’t necessarily need to run to the doctor every time you get the sniffles. In most cases nasal congestion can be treated effectively at home.
Steam Up the Bathroom
Take a hot shower or soak in a warm bath to decrease nasal congestion. The steam helps mucus drain from the nose and improves breathing. Although the benefits of the steam may not last, it provides temporary relief … which can be all you need to get through the day or get some precious sleep.
Warmth may decrease sinus congestion and tightness in the nose and face. Wet a washcloth with very warm water and apply it to the face (be sure it isn’t too hot). You can add slices of fresh ginger or lemon to the water while soaking the washcloth for a pleasant aroma and additional relief.
A shot or two of store-bought saline spray (a mix of salt and sterile water) may help decrease tissue inflammation in the nose. These sprays do not contain medication, so they are usually safe to use during pregnancy. You can buy them over-the-counter in many stores.
There are several kinds of bottles that can be used to flush out sinuses. Neti pots are used to effectively wash mucus out of sinuses, but they require you to “sniff” in liquid, which can be hard for some people. A specially-designed squeeze bottle and saline solution can also be to flush the mucus out of each nostril. Distilled or previously boiled water (that is cooled) can be used to avoid bacteria from tap water.
Adding moisture to the air from a cool mist humidifier can help to thin mucus and make draining easier. It can also help to reduce inflammation inside the nose. It’s important to keep a humidifier clean to prevent bacterial growth inside the machine. Follow the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations.
Be sure to drink enough water. Being well-hydrated causes the mucus to be more thin and makes it easier to push fluid from the nose.
“Why didn’t I do this years ago?” is a common statement our patients make after their sinus and congestion problems are resolved.
Many people simply live with their nasal blockages because they think it’s a reoccurring cold or they can ‘just tough it out’ until it goes away. It’s true, some people do have the occasional cold which will go away in a few days. However, there are others who have become so used to not breathing well, snoring at night, or always blowing their nose that they think it’s normal to feel abnormal. This isn’t the case!
If your nasal congestion doesn’t go away within a few days (and stay away for months) we recommend you come in for an evaluation. Your congestion could stem from an allergic reaction which produces secondary infection in your sinuses. Or maybe your nasal airflow is restricted for another reason like a deviated septum. All of these problems cause prolonged irritability for you and those around you.
If you feel your congestion has lasted longer than a normal cold, strongly consider coming in to see one of the physicians at South Valley Ear Nose & Throat today.