Nasal irrigation with saline or saline rinses, are a natural remedy that can be used to help with a variety of symptoms such as nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, facial pain/pressure and runny nose (rhinitis). There are a variety of methods for nasal irrigation. One of the most popular and effective is the neti pot. The name neti pot comes from the term jala-neti an ancient ayurvedic/ yogic practice of cleansing the nose with water. This has been a practice used for thousands of years.
More recently, the clinical relevance of saline rinses has been recognized. Several studies show that the use of neti pots can help minimize symptoms and reduce the need for medication in patients with chronic sinusitis and allergies. Nasal saline irrigation flushes out mucus and environmental allergens in the nose. It is also thought to help improve the health and function of cilia, the tiny hairs inside your nose that work to help clear the nasal passage of mucus and irritants.
What do I need to neti pot?
Plastic or ceramic neti pot, available at majority of pharmacies or online
Distilled or sterile bottled water or tap water that has been boiled at least 3-5 minutes
Salt, you may use table salt, sea salt or kosher salt
Baking soda (optional) can decrease harshness of salt solution in the nose
Steps to neti pot
1. Find a location.
You can neti pot either over the sink or in the shower.
2. Make the saline solution.
Use about 1 pint or 16 ounces of water.
Mix with approximately one tablespoon of salt.
Add ½ tablespoon of baking soda (depending on personal preference)
The nasal irrigation will be more comfortable if the solution is warmed. Too hot or too cold can be irritating to the nose.
3. Start pouring.
Tilt head completely over to one side. Neti pot relies on gravity to work. While breathing through your mouth, gently pour contents of neti pot into one nostril. The solution will then begin to drain out the other nostril. You can estimate and pour about half the solution in one nostril and the remaining half through the other nostril.
4. Don’t give up!
Neti pot can be a difficult technique to learn. But with practice it will get easier each time. After enough time, this will be a simple, smooth part of your daily routine.
After using a neti pot you may feel the need to blow your nose. You may find a small amount of water spills into your throat while using the neti pot. Be sure to rinse out your neti pot after use and either dry yourself or let air dry. Clean thoroughly with soap and hot water before next use. Some neti pots are dishwasher safe.
This should not become a burdensome task. As you are newly learning how to neti pot, limit your time to 2-3 minutes a day on each nostril.
There are several alternatives to neti pot including squeeze bottle systems and saline sprays. The effectiveness of these alternatives depends on the amount of water used to flush out the nasal passageways. We recommend using neti pot over these alternatives unless the volume of water used is approximately the same. However, for patients who have tried the neti pot without success these other methods of nasal saline rinsing are also acceptable.
A visit to an ENT specialist may be required if you are experiencing the following symptoms despite using your neti pot:
Discolored, green or yellow mucus
Persisting nasal congestion/blockage
Ear blockage or pain
Neti pot or nasal saline rinses can be an integral part of a patient’s nasal health hygiene. In conjunction with medication and appropriate intervention, many patients achieve better control of their chronic sinus and allergy symptoms.