If you suffer from sinus issues, you may be one of the millions that turn to nasal irrigation – the most popular being the Neti Pot. Like many products there are pro’s and con’s. Here is everything you need to know about how to use a Neti Poti
Chronic sinus or allergy problems can leave you feeling as though your nose is perpetually stuffed. To breathe freely again, many sinus sufferers rely on nasal irrigation, a technique that flushes out clogged nasal passages using a saltwater solution.
Often it’s the first line of defense in dealing with complicated sinus problems and allergy problems, particularly if you are developing congestion or have a sinus infection it’s very helpful.
The idea behind nasal irrigation is that it helps the body get rid of irritating and infectious agents that make their way into the nose. The nasal passages come equipped with tiny, hair like structures called cilia, which beat back and forth to catch dirt, bacteria, viruses, and other unwelcome substances.
What happens with sinus problems or allergies is the consistency of the mucus changes, so that it’s harder to beat, or harder to move, or thicker. Nasal irrigation helps thin out the mucus and improve the coordination of the cilia to help them more effectively remove bacteria and other irritants from the sinus passages.
Nasal irrigation can be an effective way to relieve sinus symptoms, and a complement to traditional sinus treatments such as antibiotics and nasal steroids.
Using nasal irrigation to clear stuffed sinuses can be helpful from time to time for relieving symptoms, but a study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in 2009 shows that it may actually be counterproductive when used regularly over the long term.
The idea behind this finding is that nasal mucus serves a beneficial function, helping to protect the body against infection. The nasal mucus we have in the nose contains very important immune elements that are the first line of respiratory defense against infections. As it helps remove the bad mucus, saline may also dilute or wash away these beneficial antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral agents.
In addition to the study, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concerns about the risk of infection tied to the improper use of Neti Pots and other nasal rinsing devices. The agency is informing consumers, manufacturers and health care professionals about safe practices for using all nasal rinsing devices, which include bulb syringes, squeeze bottles, and battery-operated pulsed water devices.
Most important is the source of water that is used with nasal rinsing devices. Tap water that is not filtered, treated, or processed in specific ways is not safe for use as a nasal rinse.
Some tap water contains low levels of organisms, such as bacteria and protozoa, including amoebas, which may be safe to swallow because stomach acid kills them. But these “bugs” can stay alive in nasal passages and cause potentially serious infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Improper use of Neti Pots may have caused two deaths in 2011 in Louisiana from a rare brain infection that the state health department linked to tap water contaminated with an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri.
BE SAFE: Water
- Distilled or sterile water, which you can buy in stores. The label will state “distilled” or “sterile.”
- Boiled and cooled tap water—boiled for 3-5 minutes, then cooled until it is lukewarm. Previously boiled water can be stored in a clean, closed container for use within 24 hours.
- Water passed through a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller, which traps potentially infectious organisms. CDC has information on selecting these filters, which you can buy from some hardware and discount stores, or online.
Be SAFE: Proper Use
- Wash and dry hands.
- Check that the device is clean and completely dry.
- Use the appropriate water as recommended above to prepare the saline rinse, either with the prepared mixture supplied with the device, or one you make yourself.
- Follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
- Wash the device with distilled, sterile, or boiled and cooled tap water, and then dry the inside with a paper towel or let it air dry between uses.
However, people who are using nasal saline on a regular basis, it makes them feel like it is helping them, but they are only patching the problem. If nosebleeds or headaches come as a result of your Neti Poti use, contact Dr. Mariotti immediately as these could be signs of a greater problem.
With proper use, and all things considered, in studies, people suffering from daily sinus symptoms found relief from using the Neti Pot or other nasal irrigation system daily. Three times a week was often enough once symptoms subsided.
Source: Food & Drug Administration , Web MD