Spring Cleaning for Your Nose

Irrigating your sinuses can work wonders to relieve stuffiness, sneezing and other symptoms of the season.

| May/June 2005

  • Neti pots are used to clean out the nasal passages. A saline solution is often used but herbal liquids are also available.
    Photo courtesy of Red Hot Ceramics
  • To rinse sinuses, the spout of the neti pot is inserted into one nostril while the head is tilted so that the liquid will flow through the other nostril to clean out nasal passages.
    Photo courtesy of Nathan Bryant

The times definitely are changing. I went to visit our family pediatrician recently and he asked if I wanted to see something special. Reaching into a cabinet in his exam room, he revealed a cache of more than 100 nasal rinsing (also called neti) pots, still in their boxes. Why would this conventional medical doctor have a cabinet chock-a-block with little pots from India? Because they work, he told me. After two decades of seeing stuffed-up kids on an apparently endless round of antibiotics, he decided there must be a better way.

He found it. Instead of balloons, he now gives his young patients neti pots. And the kids are getting well.

An Effective, Ancient Technique

Call it spring cleaning for your nose. Nasal rinsing — or sinus irrigation — is a simple, ancient technique. A warm saltwater rinse of the nasal passages takes a tiny amount of time and pays off big. When we are exposed to irritants, such as allergens, pollution, debris, microbes and smoke, the mucus membranes of our sinuses swell, leading to an increase in mucus production; thicker, stickier mucus; clogged mucus flow; and decrease in nose hair function. Next comes congestion, infection and medication use. (Mucus that stagnates is a primary cause of sinus infections.)

A nasal rinse washes out accumulated mucus and debris before they can cause trouble. This simple maneuver washes particles out, shrinks nasal membranes, increases the nose hair function, thins secretions and opens the tiny sinus openings. The salt reduces swelling and the gentle blast of warm water works like a hose rinsing debris off a sidewalk.



The result? Reduced allergy misery, decreased congestion, healthier sinuses and less money spent on drugs.

It may not be pretty, but nasal rinsing opens up the head. Safe and natural, nasal rinsing often does what sinus surgery, antibiotics, decongestants and antihistamines don’t.



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