Neti on the road

Though there are ceramic neti pots available, I chose plastic because  I wanted to be able to travel with my neti pot.  I premix pickling salt and baking powder for however long I’ll be gone.

Strangely enough, small plastic bags filled with white powder may arouse suspicion at airport security checks.  This occurred to me as I packed for my trip to D.C. back in March.  Sure enough, after scanning my carry-on, they pulled it off of the belt and asked for “the owner of this bag” to step to the side.

When the TSA officer opened my bag and held up the little baggy, I prepared for the worst.  Granted, the baggie was WITH my neti pot, and I had halfway been expecting this, so I calmly explained the whole thing.  The officer swabbed my bag (not sure whether she was ruling out drugs or just explosives) and sent me on my way, neti salts intact, no drug dogs involved.

Maintaining the neti routine on the road can be tricky.  When I was in Chattanooga last month, my hotel room did not have a microwave.  The only way to get warm water was to use it straight from the tap, without giving it time to dechlorinate.  Ouch!  Did that ever burn!  It was bad enough that I skipped one day (despite the high ragweed levels), then went crawling back for more when the congestion got too unbearable.

While nasal irrigation is not the perfect cure, it works at least as well as prescription nasal inhalants (i.e., Flonase) for the allergies, at a fraction of the cost, and no drugs involved.  Neither method is perfect — with both I get/got occasional sinus headaches when allergen levels are crazy high.  However, regular neti-ing  provides the added bonus of removing other invaders, like bacteria and viruses, giving me a leg-up on staying healthy — works for me!

Neti pot — A how to

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.