Q. My friend, my daughter-in-law and I have been able to stop all our prescription nasal sprays and inhalers for sinus problems and allergies since using a neti pot daily! I get bronchitis easily, but I have been cough-free for two months since I began rinsing my sinuses nightly with a mixture of one cup of warm water and 1/4 teaspoon of plain salt.

A. The neti pot looks a bit like an Aladdin’s lamp. It is a traditional technology for nasal irrigation to cleanse the nasal passages and sinuses. Ayurvedic medicine has used neti pots for regular nasal cleansing for hundreds of years.

In using a neti pot, the head is tipped forward and slightly to the side so that water can be poured into one nostril and allowed to run out the other. Nasal irrigation may also be accomplished with spray equipment from the drugstore. A small study in the Wisconsin Medical Journal (April 2008) suggests that many people with chronic sinus symptoms get benefit from daily nasal irrigation.

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  1. Suzie

    Cmm: I had a very bad sinus infection in February, (2013). I have since lost much of my sense of smell, and much of my sense of taste also. This has been going on for seven months now, and still have not resumed these senses. Very frustrating to say the least. My doctor said, it may or may not ever come back. If you find out any remedies for this difficult problem, or if anyone else out there knows of this type of experience, and what can be done for it, please reply. Thank you.

  2. Sara S.

    I used a nasal aspirator at first, but the force of the wash when you squeeze the bulb can be painful. I bought a neti pot about 5 years ago and the design ensures a gentle flow through the sinuses instead of the sensation one can get jumping into water without holding your nose. Ouch!
    I have learned to roll my head round somewhat for each side to get more sinus area. Friends and family I admit were all grossed out when I described the process, but those who have tried it, including a dear friend and fellow choir member who suffers from terrible allergies, agree that it does work very well, and is effective at warding off, as well as treating, misery when used routinely.
    I use neti salt, now, but began with table salt. Neti salt is finer and dissolves better.

  3. mw

    I know this is a great remedy for many people. Be aware that if your eustation tubes are configured just right (or, rather, just wrong), sinus irrigation can promote or cause an ear infection. This happened to me – ugh. But again, most people will not have that problem.

  4. Victoria

    Thank goodness for the lady in Walgreens who pointed out the NeilMed Sinus Rinse product and no longer need an antihistamine nasal spray. The most amazing result is – I’ve stopped snoring and is my husband happy! Only wish my family physician and the ENT doc would have recommended this product! Great results quickly and easily!

  5. Sally

    I have been using a neti pot for over a year and I haven’t had any sinus infections or colds. I had been having at least 2 good sinus infections a year. Hurrah for the neti pot.

  6. PW

    Would a nasal aspirator
    used to infuse the saline solution in the nasal passage be as effective?

  7. cmm

    I have used nasal irrigation with positive results for sinus infections. However, my latest sinus problem involves loss of taste. Would welcome any helpful advice as this is going on 4 weeks.

  8. DP

    35 years ago when my 4 sons were all under 6, I had sinus infections one after another. My old pharmacist took pity on me and sold me a “nasal douche”. It looked like a little glass, floating duck. He gave instructions on how to use it with saline.
    I did this faithfully for years, anytime I had a sinus headache, or could tell my sinuses were blocked. I stopped having the usual ensuing infections. I rarely irrigate them now (once a year?) and haven’t had a sinus headache in years.
    How wonderful when knowledgeable people pass on wisdom to others so we don’t have to suffer along at the hands of uneducated “modern”, narrow field medicine men. Pharmacists are the best!

  9. Eleanor K.

    I was first introduced to sinus rinse at Duke ENT where I was being treated for my many sinus infections which occurred about four times a year and were treated with antibiotics. They gave me a tube and saline from the drug store to rinse regularly . They also added a mycine from time to time to the saline solution when the infection flared. Since using it, I have no more infections and few colds.

  10. Jay

    I highly recommend neti pots for anyone who suffers from sinus problems. With a history of sinus infections, I use my neti pot most often when recovering from a cold to prevent the onset of infection.
    I also have seasonal allergies (spring and fall) and find that sinus cleansing can make a huge difference in my reaction after doing yard work if used in the first few minutes after being outside.
    Though they may seem odd, they work! It may take you a few tries to get used to the process, but it’s well worth the effort!

  11. pkp

    I use a plastic squeeze bottle and pre-measured saline packets from the drugstore during the winter when my sinus problems are normally very bad. Last winter I didn’t even have a cold as a result.

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