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How To Properly Rinse Your Sinuses with Neti Pots
The neti pot originally comes from the Ayurvedic/yoga medical tradition, and has been around for centuries. Neti pots look like a genie's lamp or a gravy boat, and are used to flush and rinse the nasal cavity with a warm saline liquid solution, which is called nasal irrigation. The user fills a neti pot with a salt-based (saline) solution, tilts their head back, and pours the solution into one nostril. The liquid goes up their nose, and comes out of the other nostril.
Are Neti Pots Safe?
Over the last ten years, neti pots have become very popular for people who have problems with their sinuses. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently felt the need to inform the public of the dangers of not using the tool properly. According to the FDA, improper use of neti pots, as well as other devices for rinsing out the sinuses, such as squeeze bottles, battery-operated pulsed water devices, and bulb syringes, have been linked to a higher risk of infection. If they are not used correctly, the user runs a risk of developing serious infections, even potentially fatal ones. However, the FDA says that the neti pots are not the actual problem, the users are.
The FDA is currently informing doctors, other health care professionals, device makers, and users about the safe practice of devices used for rinsing the nasal passages.
While neti pots are safe and useful overall, it is important that they are properly used and cleaned. Users have to make sure that the liquid is a dedicated saline nasal rinse. Individuals should not use tap water or any form of unsterilized liquid. Tap water generally has small amount of bacteria, protozoa, and other microorganisms, including amoebas, which is fine if we swallow them, but should not go into our nasal passages. If they do, they can remain there, alive, and eventually cause serious infections.
Neti Pot Manufacturers
According to the FDA, some makers of neti pots provide misleading and contradictory data, while others have no guidelines at all. A number of instructions feature pictures or videos of people using plain tap water, while simultaneously suggesting that tap water should not be used. These conflicting instructions make it a lot harder for people who are trying to use neti pots the right way.
How to Rinse Using Neti Pots
- Lean over a sink
- Tilt your head to one side, so that your forehead and chin are at approximately the same level. This prevents water from getting into your mouth
- From this point on, breath through your mouth
- Place the spout into your upper nostril and pour the solution so that it drains through the lower nostril
- Blow your nose (clear your nostrils), and do it again on the other side
Rinsing the nasal passage helps clear out pollen, dirt, and other trapped debris. The saline solution does not irritate or burn the nasal membranes, which is great as these areas are extremely sensitive and delicate.
What Water Should I Use for my Neti Pot?
You should use sterile or distilled water, boiled tap water, or water that has gone through a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron maximum. If you decide to use boiled tap water, note that is must be boiled for 3-5 minutes, and then allowed to cool down. If you store it in a clean, closed container, it will be good for use for up to 24 hours.
Caring for Your Neti Pot
- Wash the Neti pot thoroughly by hand or dishwasher (if it is dishwasher safe)
- Dry the Neti pot after is has been thoroughly cleaned
- Do not let stagnant water sit in the Neti pot. The water can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Solution should have 0.9% salt, like the human body fluids