Diseases & Conditions
Try this: The nose knows about nasal rinses
- Reviewed by Howard E. LeWine, MD, Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
Clogged sinuses? Runny nose? Facial pain or pressure? Rinsing your nasal cavity with a saline solution can be an easy way to find relief.
"Sinus and nasal irrigations are among the best studied non-pharmacologic ways to treat common nasal symptoms," says Dr. Benjamin Bleier, a sinus specialist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear.
You can do a nasal rinse using a small bulb syringe or a neti pot, which resembles a small teapot. Both are found at most drugstores and online. Here's how it's done:
1. Stir two to three teaspoons of non-iodized salt (not table salt, which has too many additives) and ¼ to ½ teaspoon of baking soda into 2 cups of lukewarm distilled water. (You can use tap water, but always boil it first.) Another option is an over-the-counter sinus mix; add one packet to the neti pot and fill it with distilled or cooled boiled tap water.
2. Pour the solution into a neti pot or pull it into a bulb syringe.
3. To rinse your nose, stand over a sink, bend forward, and tilt your head to one side. Insert the tip of the pot or syringe inside one nostril, and gently pour or squeeze the bulb to release about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the solution. The water will run back out the nostril (or possibly the opposite nostril) and into the sink. Repeat the procedure in the other nostril. Perform twice a day until your sinuses are clear.
Thoroughly rinse (with distilled or cooled boiled water) and dry the neti pot or bulb syringe after each use.
Image: © Maria Zubareva/Getty Images
About the Author
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch
About the Reviewer
Howard E. LeWine, MD, Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
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