You’ve likely seen or even used a neti pot before. If you were turned away by the uncomfortable sensation, you might want to give it another try the next time you are struggling with nasal congestion. It is cheap, safe, totally natural, and will allow you to avoid using harmful over the counter decongestions. Here’s everything you need to know about using a neti pot and a few common mistakes to avoid.
Benefits of a neti pot
The neti pot has been used for hundreds of years to ease nasal congestion and dislodge stubborn mucus buildup. Whether you have seasonal allergies or are battling a head cold, you know how frustrating it can be when your sleep is disrupted, and you can’t smell anything due to clogged nostrils. The neti pot is a tool for irrigation that uses a special saline solution to rinse out your nose. Though it may feel strange at first, once you get used to the sensation of water pouring in one nostril and out the other, and as long as you are using it correctly, the neti pot is a safe and effective solution. It helps alleviate congestion and will also reduce inflammation and headaches associated with congestion while clearing out allergens, debris, and bacteria that may build up in the nasal passages.
Neti pots are often used to help moisturize dry nasal passages as well; however, a less intense option such as a gentle nasal spray may be more convenient and practical if you are not struggling with congestion.
Neti pot mistakes
Using it too frequently
Though the neti pot is generally considered safe, there is some evidence that using it regularly could increase your risk of sinus infection. Use it sparingly and only when you are sick or congested.
Not using sterile water
It makes sense that you don’t want to irrigate your sinuses with unclean water. Instead of using plain tap water, be sure to boil it first for 3-5 minutes and then let it cool. This will kill any lingering parasites or diseases. Though it is rare, a parasitic amoeba, known as Naegleria fowleri, has killed several people who failed to sterilize their water before using the neti pot.
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of boiling your water, you can purchase distilled or sterile water in the grocery store.
Failing to clean the pot
Be sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect your neti pot in boiling water after every use. Failing to do so could invite parasites and nasty germs, which can survive on your pot and then transfer to your nasal passage. Let it air dry completely before using it again.
Not using a saline solution
Plain water should never be used in a neti pot as it can cause irritated and inflamed nasal passages and is often accompanied by a burning sensation. Always use the included salt packets to make a saline solution.
How to use it
Step 1: Wash your hands and mix the warm, sterilized water with a premixed salt packet designed for neti pot use. You can also mix your own, but it can be hard to find the correct ratio and type of salt. It is best to stick to the premixed packets for safety and ultimate effectiveness.
Step 2: Lean over a sink and tilt your head sideways. Your forehead and chin should be fairly level to avoid having liquid flow into your moth.
Step 3: Breathe through your mouth and place the spout of the neti pot into your upper nostril.
Step 4: Pour some water through so that it flows out your lower nostril. Tilt your head in the other direction and repeat the process.
Step 5: Use a tissue to gently clear out your nostrils of any remaining saline solution or discharge.
Step 6: Thoroughly clean your neti pot with boiling water between every use. Use antibacterial soap or vinegar for a more thorough cleaning every few uses.
Other methods to improve nasal congestion
- Use a humidifier
- Prop yourself up on an extra pillow at night
- Drink lots of fluids
- Take a long, warm shower for a steam treatment
- Use a warm compress on your face
Have you ever used a neti pot? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!