When it comes to allergies, it can be hard to find relief that is free of the dangerous side effects associated with most over-the-counter treatments. However, using a neti pot is not only one of the safest, most effective ways there are to ease your symptoms, it has the backing of modern science to prove it works. (1)
And, nasal irrigation has been used for thousands of years in Ayervedic medicine, which is a holistic approach , making it perhaps the oldest allergy treatment there is.
Even so, using one may seem intimidating—at least initially. But, once you understand how easy a sinus rinse is to perform, you will likely find nothing daunting about it—just free, easy breathing, and not just from allergies, but from other symptoms related to stuffy sinuses, as well.
Here is what you need to know about the benefits of using a neti pot to relieve your nasal allergies, and how you can use one to start breathing easier today.
What is a Neti Pot?
While nasal irrigation can be performed in many ways, the most common is with a small vessel which looks like a cross between a teapot and a genie’s lamp. This is known of as a “neti pot,” and has been used for thousands of years for relief from stuffy sinuses and other upper respiratory conditions.
Since the practice is drug-free and as natural (though arguably safer) than blowing your nose, it is as safe a treatment for nasal conditions as there are, and with virtually no side effects—so long as it is used correctly, and a few important measures are taken.
How Does it Work?
So as far as performing a sinus rinse, it is really quite simple. It requires only some warm, purified salt water mixed in a ratio to mimic the saline content of the human body (usually about ¼ TSP of non-iodized salt per 8-ounces of lukewarm water). This is important, since fresh (unsalted) water cannot pass through sensitive nasal membranes the way a saline solution can, which can make the treatment quite painful. Likewise, too much salt can also cause stinging, and you may need to adjust the amount up or down from what is recommended to mimic your body’s particular saline content. (2, 3)
What type of Water is Safe to use?
Do not use tap water in a neti pot (unless it has been boiled or filtered). It is very important that you only use distilled or sterile water since tap water can carry tiny amounts of pathogens which can cause an infection in the sinuses or even your brain. The reason you can drink tap water is because the microorganisms cannot survive stomach acid, but you don’t have this protection in your nasal cavity.. The water temperature may also need some adjusting for your particular comfort level, though usually between 72 and 102 degrees is best.
Also, if you can’t use bottled distilled or sterile water, you can only use tap water which has either passed through a filter fine enough to remove all pathogens (1-micron or smaller), or tap water which has been boiled for at least 3-5 minutes and then allowed to cool back to temperature.
So far as the actual rinsing, simply lean forward over a sink with your head turned to one side so that one nostril is above the other (it doesn’t matter which side—do what is most comfortable for you). Now, while breathing through your mouth, pour about half the contents of the neti pot into the top nostril. The water should almost immediately run out the bottom nostril, which means you are doing it right. Do this with about half the contents of the pot, and then switch sides and repeat with the rest of the saline solution. This should leave your sinuses clear, open, and hydrated, and with no discomfort associated with a stuffy nose.
For added benefit, you can also include about ¼ TSP of baking soda per 8-ounces of water, which can help to reduce stinging for those with sensitive nasal passages. (6)
How Does it Help Relieve Allergies?
Of course, you may be wondering just how it is that rinsing your sinuses can help rid you of your allergy symptoms? Simple. Just as a summer rain cleanses the air you breathe, using a neti pot cleanses impurities which have become trapped in your sinus membranes and are causing allergy symptoms. This can be anything from dust particles, to pollen, mold or pet dander, all of which can make you miserable with allergies.
However, keep in mind that overuse of a neti pot can result in worsening allergies and stuffier sinuses, since your nasal membranes rely on a layer of mucus to trap contaminants. Daily use of a neti pot for prolonged periods removes this layer so that membranes remain exposed and irritated and are unable to perform as they are supposed to. This can lead to contaminants going deeper into the throat and lungs and can cause chronic conditions which nasal irrigation can’t control. (7)
Does Nasal Irrigation Help Other Conditions?
Of course, allergies aren’t the only thing a sinus rinse can benefit, since nearly any condition related to clogged, irritated sinuses can be eased with the help of rinsing.
This can include:
- Sinus-induced snoring
- Sinus infection
- Sneezing from cold or flu
- Stuffy sinuses
Many singers also rely on nasal irrigation to perform their best, since particulate trapped in nasal passages can cause vocal chords to swell, which can cause voice breaks and throat clearing—all of which can lead to poor singing performance. (8)
Are There Other Ways to Reduce Allergies?
Seasonal allergies are never fun, and even though the use of nasal irrigation can help relieve your immediate symptoms, there are measures you can take to reduce their occurrence in the first place.
These can include:
- Shower after being outside—Many times allergies can be alleviated with a quick shower to rinse off any offending particulate you may have picked up. Remember, too, that it isn’t just your skin and hair which trap allergens, but your clothes as well, so changing and washing your clothing often during allergy season is also recommended.
- Avoid pet dander—Yes, you may love Fido and Fifi like family, although this does not make sleeping alongside them a good idea! Pets should also be groomed regularly, and you can also wipe them down with a damp cloth after outdoor sessions to further rid them of allergens. If you are adopting a new pet, consider hypoallergenic breeds (non-shedding), such as a Poodle or a Sphinx (hairless) cat. (9)
- Filter the air—Using a filtration system in your home may be well worth the investment if you are an allergy sufferer. However, even if you aren’t able to use central air conditioning with a HEPA filter, you can still use free-standing air cleaners in rooms such as the bedroom or living room, or any other rooms where you spend much of your time. Remember, too, that no matter the device used, filters need to be changed around every three months, or more often when the particulate count is high.
- Go with hardwood floors—Wall-to-wall carpeting can be luxurious and warm to bare feet on cool mornings. However, it can also keep you miserable with allergies! Since carpeting can capture and hold dust mites, mold, dust particles and pollen, consider going with hardwood or tile flooring. Yes, it may mean wearing socks more often, although you can not only avoid having trapped particulate in your home with hard flooring, it also makes it easier to visually identify dust, etc., which needs to be removed.
- Let Basements, etc. air out—Mold is your enemy, period—something which even non-allergy sufferers need to be aware of. And, since mold loves damp areas which are free of fresh air, this means that places like basements and closets can be rife with mold—especially if there is no ventilation.
However, by opening windows or using fans in areas with no windows, you can help to eliminate mold, and the allergies and other conditions caused by it. An air dryer can also be used to help in areas where moisture accumulates, and you may also need to use a disinfectant/fungicide such as thymol to further eliminate any mold which is growing. Remember, too, that if you do need to do mold cleanup, wear a mask which covers your nose and mouth, such as those which painters wear to avoid paint fumes, and always shower completely and wash all clothing in HOT water afterward. (10, 11)
Using a neti pot is one of the safest and most effective ways to relieve your occasional allergy symptoms. The practice is thousands of years old, and yet, up to 87% of modern doctors recommend nasal irrigation to their patients who are suffering stuffy sinuses. (12)
So next time you’re feeling stuffed up with allergies, give it a try—it works!
Need additional help with allergy symptoms?
While a net pot is a great way to wash out allergens to ease your symptoms, it’s possible you may need a little more help to build up your immunity to those allergens. At Hotze Health & Wellness Center, we believe that instead of masking your allergy symptoms with pharmaceutical drugs, you should correct the underlying cause by strengthening your immune system.
We have been successfully treating our guests with allergy drops for decades. With allergy drops, treatment is easier than ever. By placing a few drops under the tongue each day, your body will build up antibodies to help fight off the allergens naturally. You can do this from the comfort of your own home or take them on the go. No office visit or wait time.
Contact a Wellness Consultant today for a complimentary wellness consultation at 281-698-8698. Let us help you conquer your allergies for good!