How Well Does Nasal Irrigation Work?

Um, wow. This one pretty much surprised me, even though I’d heard from my mother and uncle that nasal irrigation really does work.

I started out this morning with really painful sinuses. I was pretty much in tears from the pain. I’d done a bit of nasal irrigation a couple days before, but the results hadn’t impressed me that much.

I think today I hit it just right.

I used a squeeze bottle I already have. If you read much about it, you’ll hear about Neti pot, but the squeeze bottle worked just great for me. Neti pots are plenty affordable though, if you would rather go the traditional route.

My mix is about 1/2-1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in a 8 ounce bottle full of lukewarm water. Some people recommend sea salt, and many say to skip the table salt if it has iodine or anticaking ingredients added to it, as these may cause irritation. And who wants to increase the irritation when you’re trying to beat a sinus infection or cold?

Have a lot of Kleenex or cloth handkercheifs ready.

Tilt your head over the sink and to one side. Put the squeeze bottle or Neti pot firmly to the nostril on the upper side and let the water flow in. You do not want to use a lot of pressure when doing this. You want the water to flow through your nostril, into your sinuses, and out the lower nostril. This feels really weird.

Make sure you breathe through your mouth.

If you can stand it, let the water stay in your sinuses for several seconds at least. This can help to really loosen things up.

Allow the water to drain. Dry off your nose and start blowing. When I did this, I was amazed at the sheer quantities that came out. Do not plug either nostril as you do this.
Repeat on the other side.

If you make your mixture too salty, it can irritate. You’ll get a sort of lasting stinging sensation in your sinuses. It goes away after a while, thank goodness. And don’t be surprised if you feel about like you snorted some sea water. That’s about the nearest I can come to describing the sensation after letting the water drain.

You can do this up to every 2 hours or so, or the traditional Ayurvedic practice is to do it twice daily, even when you aren’t fighting a cold.

I think the problem I had the first time I tried this was that I was so tightly congested at the sinus entries that I didn’t get past it. First time I tried it, the water just came straight back out the same nostril. I gather that if I had kept at it, I could have broken through the congestion and gotten this to work.

But today, what a difference! The pain was gone immediately.

I can feel some of the pressure rebuilding now, about 5-6 hours later, so I’ll be repeating soon. I love it when I find a natural remedy that allows me to forgo a doctor’s appointment. The pain was bad enough today that I would have gone in if it hadn’t cleared up so delightfully. Hopefully repeating over the next few days will solve the problem.

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5 replies on “How Well Does Nasal Irrigation Work?”

  1. Since I have terrible year-round allergies and all sorts of sinus problems, I bought a Neti pot after seeing Dr. Oz talk about it on Oprah. Unfortunately, I also seem to have oddly shaped sinuses: when I use the pot the fluid builds up in them instead of draining out the other side.

    I think I’m going to try that squeeze bottle one you mentioned. I didn’t realize they made one in that shape!

  2. Bhumika says:

    I used to do it in our yoga classes when I was a child… since then I have stopped using it.. It’s effective and I feel happy to see it being adapted in other countries too.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Kate, it’s just a regular squeeze bottle. It works just fine for me, alhtough it took a few tries to get it just right.

  4. […] or anything, but given that the pain I had the other day from my sinuses, that I cleared up with nasal irrigation, I suspect I’m beating back an actual sinus infection. I’ve only had one before, so not […]

  5. […] figure this is not too different from using nasal irrigation on myself, which I swear by for colds. Somewhat odd feeling, but it really does the job. Makes […]

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