You may be wondering how you would irrigate your nose. You have two nostrils but they don’t connect in a semicircle. While it might be nice to use a small tube to pump water into one side and have it come shooting out the other, that is not how it all works.
Nasal irrigation is a method of reducing nasal inflammation and keeping foreign substances out of your nasal passages. Think of pollen. You can blow your nose or sneeze when it gets into your nose hairs, but do you get it all out? The only way to make sure it is all gone is to wash it out.
For sinuses, warm water through the nasal passages can alleviate some of the pressure that leads to sinus headaches. It can also help shrink those nasal passages when other ingredients are added to the water.
Nasal Irrigation Tools
The main tool that most people use these days for nasal irrigation is a neti pot. It is literally nasal cleansing using water. The pot looks much like a miniature teapot with a long narrow spout. Water is introduced into the nose through the spout slowly. Introduce it too fast and you may gag or cough.
Have you ever sniffed when you had a cold and felt mucous roll down the back of your throat? Yuck. This is because there is an open passage between your nose and the back of your throat. When you irrigate, tilt your head to the side with one nostril higher than the other.
As you slowly pour the warm water in one nostril, it will roll downhill towards the other one and exit your nose. If your head is back too far, all the water will roll down your throat.
The water in the neti pot is usually mixed with something to help clean your nasal passages better. Salt water can soothe nasal passages that are dry or irritated. Combine about a quarter of a teaspoon of salt into the warm water and mix well. Some people use baking soda or herbal remedies with antibacterial properties for the washing.
Before using nasal irrigation, consult your doctor. It is basically harmless, but if you already have a sinus infection, irrigation could spread the infection and that is definitely not what you want.
At the first sign of nasal or sinus trouble, nasal irrigation can head off infections before they can get going. Try the neti pot after talking to your doctor.