With fall allergies in full swing, along with the start of flu and cold season, allow me to introduce nasal irrigation and my neti pot.
With the exception of a 4-year respite in South Bend, IN, I’ve suffered from general “hay fever” type allergies most of my life. For me, this generally manifests as congestion leading to sinus headaches. In high school, I was a Flonase junky (back before there was a generic option).
When I started having problems again after college, I wanted to try something different.
Nasal irrigation cleans out the nasal passages, removing allergens, bacteria, and other irritants.
What you need:
- a neti pot
- pickling salt
- baking soda
- dechlorinated water
You can find neti pots at most drug stores and many health food stores. These places also sell a packaged salt mix, but you don’t need this! It’s a waste of money and packaging. You could use table salt, but I highly recommend the pickling salt, which is pure salt, no iodine and no additives, like anti-caking agents, to irritate your delicate little nasal membranes.
My mix: 1 1/3 c. dechlorinated water (just let let regular tap water sit in an open measuring cup for 24 hours to dechlorinate), generous 1/2 teaspoon pickling salt, 1/8 teaspoon baking powder. I pour 2/3 c. of the mixture into the neti pot for one nostril, then use the rest for the other.
Here’s a slideshow to walk you through the process.
Does it hurt? Usually, no. It’s only painful when I’m REALLY congested, or sometimes when I skip a day. Lesson here? For this to work well, you should neti every day. Once you make it part of your routine, it will only take a few minutes. I neti in the evening, usually an hour or two before bed.
Using the neti pot every day means traveling with proper supplies. Come back tomorrow for that tale.