If you’re into the latest wellness trends, you’ve heard of a small neti pot. A neti pot is a shallow jar – usually made of ceramic or plastic – with a thin spout that washes your sinuses with a stream of sterile saline and removes the mucus and other debris that can clog your nasal cavities.
The neti pot also made headlines after a woman flushed her nostrils with untreated tap water instead of the recommended sterile saline solution, potentially resulting in a fatal batch of a brain-eating amoeba. However, when used properly, neti pots are safe and an effective way to reduce sinus-related problems.
If you bought salt in a kit with your neti pot, follow the instructions in the package. You can also make your own saline solution. Use a ratio of a quarter to a half teaspoon of non-iodized salt per eight ounces of warm sterilized water or one teaspoon of non-iodized salt per pint of water when doubling the amount of the solution. Mix until the salt has dissolved.
The key to safe nasal irrigation is using sterile or bottled water – it’s inexpensive and by far the safest option. However, tap water boiled for 3-5 minutes and cooled to a lukewarm temperature will also work. Do not put boiling water in the neti pot.
It is best to water over a sink, preferably in front of a mirror. Once you’ve poured your saline solution into the neti pot, lean slightly over the sink and move your head to one side, so one nostril is raised above the other. While breathing through your mouth, lift the neti pot and calmly insert it through your upper nostril. If your head is tilted to the left, this is your right nostril. If your head is tickling down to the right, this is your left nostril.
Make sure you keep your forehead straight with your chin and don’t lean too far forward. Otherwise, the water may not come out properly or accidentally leak out through your mouth.
After inserting the neti pot, the water should immediately flow out of the pot into the upper nostril and out of the lower nostril. Remove the pot after emptying. Breathe out lightly and blow your nose to clear any foreign mucus or foreign solution. Refill the pot with saline and repeat the process with the other nostril.
While many neti pot users flush daily, ask your doctor how often it is appropriate for you to do so.
What to Expect use a neti pot
If you get a burning or otherwise irritating feeling in your nostrils after use, it is likely because you used too little or too much salt. Adjust the salt to water ratio or reduce your neti pot routine to every other day.
When in doubt, consult the instructions that came with your neti pot or seek advice from a trusted doctor, especially if you experience side effects such as headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting. The procedure may not be suitable for children under four years of age without the recommendation of a pediatrician.
Some safety tips use a neti pot
- After each use, rinse your pot thoroughly with hot water and soap and let it air dry before your next session. Many neti pots are dishwasher safe too, but be sure to read the instructions that come with your jar. DO NOT microwave your neti pot.
- Sharing is not always important: DO NOT share the Neti Pot with family or friends.
- In particular, DO NOT use tap water that has not been boiled or otherwise properly sterilized. Your standard Brita filter likely won’t protect you from the ravages of a brain-eating amoeba. The only exception: tap water processed through filters with a pore size of 1 micron or less can use for your neti pots.
You can purchase neti pots kits containing the appropriate table salt products, available at your local pharmacy or through an organization such as the Himalayan Institute. And don’t take an old teapot out of the cupboard under any circumstances. Nasal irrigation is serious business!
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