Friday, September 3, 2010

Up Your Nose With A Rubber Hose!

Let's talk Neti Pots. From the first time I heard about them, I was intrigued. I completely buy into the idea that flushing junk out of your body is a good thing. WebMD backs me up too.

What is a Neti Pot, you ask? It's a magic-lamp looking thing with a long spout; you fill it with a lukewarm saline solution and pour it in your nose. In one nostril, out the other; instead of a genie that grants you wishes, you get nasal irrigation. It's supposed to help tremendously with allergies and sinus conditions.
This is the one I have. They make ceramic ones too.
I have suffered from seasonal allergies and sinus issues my entire adult life. In my early twenties, I went through two years of chronic sinus infections, constant stuffiness, antibiotic after antibiotic after antibiotic. I forgot what it was like to have a sense of smell, and that is not an exaggeration. I eventually ended up having sinus surgery to clear it out, remove some polyps, and correct a severely deviated septum; when that didn't entirely clear up the problem, six months later I had a tonsillectomy, and that made a huge difference.

I still suffer from seasonal allergies though, and each year they seem to get a little worse. I get hit in the spring AND the fall. I usually have at least one sinus infection a year.

So the Neti Pot has always intrigued me, but also weirded me out a bit; pouring water into my nose just doesn't seem natural, and I know I HATE getting water up my nose while swimming, so why would I want to do that? Americans who use Neti Pots seem few and far between, and while I talked to a lot of people who were interested in them, I never found an actual person I knew who had used one. Everything I read claimed it shouldn't feel like like much of anything, that the 'getting water up your nose while swimming' feeling would not happen. I remained skeptical.

I finally broke down and bought a Neti Pot early last spring, while I was on vacation in Utah, of all places. Then I left it sitting in my suitcase for two months, until I was beset with a godawful, unexpected late-spring sinus infection. One of the most painful ones I'd ever had. At some point in my misery, while waiting for the medicine to kick in, I remembered the Neti Pot and frantically dug it out. I didn't even CARE if it felt like poolwater-in-the-nose at that point, I just wanted some relief.

It's probably not recommended to start using a Neti Pot when you're stuffed up like crazy, and at first I wasn't even sure it would WORK, but it did. And it helped clear me out. And the next day, and the next. It helped me feel better and I believe it helped me recover more quickly.

It DOES have a little bit of that 'water up your nose' feeling, I won't lie. But it's not as bad as it can be while swimming and you can adjust the tilt of your head and the angle of the water to minimize it. I don't find it particularly PLEASANT (as some people claim to), but it isn't so bad either, and I think the benefit outweighs the weirdness of the experience.

You can find a lot of videos of people using Neti Pots on youtube and it's kind of interesting to watch. I like this one from Howcast:

Since then, I haven't used it regularly (I have an irrational fear of running out of the little packets of saline solution it came with; this is stupid because a) we could buy more and b) YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN SOLUTION) but I have used it when I've had some stuffiness, and it always helps.

It is now edging towards fall, and with the appearance of the cooler weather comes crazy allergies. I can feel the pain and pressure in my face already. I am making a vow to use the Neti Pot daily this fall and see if it makes a difference with my allergies this year.

Do any if you use Neti Pots? If not, are you willing to try? What's your thought on them?


  1. I think it's done pretty well for me - WHEN I've used it. The best results would come from using it every day, or at least often.

  2. I use mine every sunday (lol, not sure why but its always sunday). If I'm stuffy..then I use it every day a few times a day when I'm stuffy.

    Since breastfeeding I cant take decongestants and so my neti pot has been a godsend.

    Praise be to the alladin lamp that you shove up your nose!!!

  3. I use mine several times a week, in the morning. This is a new dedication for me - I'm using it because I tend to be stuffed up and icky dry in the mornings and also because I have dry eye! I was hoping it would help with the eyes, but no luck yet. I do actually enjoy using it though! I occasionally get a little water toward the ear but it clears out fast, I don't have any sort of crazy swimmer's ear sensation afterward.

    And yes you can totally make your own saline solution - all I do is put a little non-iodized salt in a 2 cup measuring cup, fill 1 cup with boiling water and 1 cup with cold water. I guess you don't need to use any sort of distilled or filtered water, but I feel better doing so. Then I pour 1 cup of water at a time into the neti pot so each nostril gets 1. Fresh! ;)

  4. Kate - You mentioned that you "use it every day a few times a day when I'm stuffy." I think it is recommended to do it only once a day, in the morning. So be careful about it, excess of a good thing is not good.

  5. I can see that you have an expertise on this topic, I would very much like to hear more from you on this subject – I’ve bookmarked this and will return soon more about it, thank you.




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