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Nasal Irrigation

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Updated August 01, 2013

What is Nasal Irrigation?

Other names: sinus irrigation, sinus rinse, sinus lavage

Nasal irrigation is a home procedure that involves using a salt water rinse to clear the nasal passages.

Although nasal irrigation is sometimes recommended by physicians for post nasal drip and to prevent sinus infections and allergic rhinitis (often called allergies or hayfever), it is also used in alternative medicine for the same conditions and also as a general preventative and cleansing practice.

An ancient yogic cleansing technique, called Jala neti, involves nasal irrigation using a neti pot, a ceramic container resembling a tea pot. It is still done today in many parts of India and Southeast Asia and the practice is now done in North America, Europe, and Australia by health conscious people. Health food stores often sell neti pots.

Although there are an increasing number of nasal irrigation kits available in health food stores and online, this is a description of how to make it yourself. You will need a neti pot or a nasal bulb syringe.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon of non-iodized salt (e.g. kosher, canning, pickling, or sea salt)
  • 8 ounces filtered room temperature water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

Instructions

1. Mix the ingredients together in a clean container.

2. Stand over the bathroom sink. If using a bulb syringe, tilt your head down and place the syringe into one nostril. Give it a gentle squeeze so that the water comes out the other nostril.

If using a neti pot, tilt your head sideways and place the spout into a nostril. Tilt the pot so water out the other nostril.

There may be some mucous in the water that comes out. It is usually done until there is no more mucous in the water.

3. Repeat for the other nostril.

4. Gargle with water.

Precautions

It's always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider before trying a home procedure such as a nasal irrigation.

People with acute sinus infections should avoid this procedure, since it may facilitate the spread of bacteria.

If a nasal irrigation results in gagging or ear pain, it's likely being done too vigorously.

There may be coughing after nasal irrigation because some of the fluid drains down the back of the throat.

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