October 14, 2008

Ready, Steady, Neti!

They sell 'em here.

Do You Really Want to Read A Post About Nasal Hygiene?

Of course you don't, but you're here already, right? You thought it was going to be an amusing post by Merry 'cause she's usually Tuesday, but it's not. Fooled you! Fear not, though, Merry will be back tomorrow.

Anyway, I may have mentioned in passing before that I have mild but chronic allergies. My nose runs pretty much all the time, and as a result, I get occasional nosebleeds. Also I have to sleep practically sitting up. If I don't? Then my post-nasal drip eventually hits a sensitive spot or something and my asleep self decides to fix the problem by not breathing at all.

Thanks so much, asleep self. Way to problem-solve! I so love waking up in the up in the middle of the night gasping for air and fearing I'm dying.

But year after year I refuse to do anything about my allergy problems. Well, I tried some over the counter stuff a few times and it didn't help. And once I went to a doctor who suggested I drink a glass of warm salt water through my nose every day. I think I actually did it once, but, um, hello Mr. Big Fancy Expensive Ear Nose and Throat Doctor? This may surprise you, but Nose-Drinking is unpleasant! It would have to not only cure my allergies but give me superpowers of some sort. Alas, no superpowers were immediately apparent so I said screw it.

Now I suppose I could try to clean my house of allergens. But that would be a lot of work, wouldn't it? And then where the hell would I put this?

Plus, once we moved to a sterile corporate apartment across the country from our old place, with no cat and none of the usual allergens, and my nose still ran all the time. Case closed, tried everything, there's no hope!

Nasal Remedy of Last Resort: The Neti Pot

There was one thing, however, that I hadn't tried, because it sounded too much like the dreaded nose-drinking. But now I am trying it. Last weekend I went out and bought a neti pot.

For those who haven't been introduced to one before, you use it to pour water up your nose. Nice, huh? Actually, you pour warm salt water in one nostril and let it run out the other in order to irrigate your sinuses. (Preferably while leaning over the sink in the privacy of your own bathroom; not in the middle of a big client meeting at work. But however you like to roll).

Of course I assumed that the earthy-crunchy employee at the Natural Foods store would be familiar with the ancient Ayurvedic technique of jala neti, thus sparing me awkward explanations. But no, lucky me, he was a Neti Pot virgin and seemed very curious and amused by the whole concept.

(Had I thought to have googled sooner, I could have told him that the practice of jala neti is thought to assist the Ajna Chakra in awakening higher states of meditation. Plus, it's supposed to reduce mouth breathing and temper-tantrums and gives one sparkly eyes. And who doesn't want sparkly eyes?)

Even Web MD approves of neti pots for allergies and other sinus problems, though they don't cite particular studies (and I'm not going to go hunt them down either). They did mention stuff like "uncoordinated cilia" and used other impressive medical terminology, so I say, good enough--I'll give it a try!

How To Use a Neti Pot

If you're actually going to buy one, don't worry, it comes with instructions. And there are even Youtube instructional videos but I am SO not going to watch one. Do I really want to see some random stranger pouring water up his nose and flushing out his snot? No, I do not.

Basically, you just have to learn to tip your head at the correct angle so the warm salt water goes through your nose and not down your throat.

If you need additional resources, here are the best Neti Pot Instructions ever. (Or at least the most hilarious).

So How Do I Like My Neti Pot?

Well, it's a much less obnoxious practice than drinking water through your nose and swallowing it, that's for sure. The first time was uncomfortable because I had the water too warm; after I solved that problem, it wasn't fun but it wasn't a big deal. It's really just a bit of a time-consuming mess.

Does The Neti Pot Work To Reduce Allergy Symptoms?

Not yet, goddamn it! But it's been less than a week. I've decided I'm going to give it a month before deciding whether it helps or not. It's worth a little bit of patience if I can reduce my allergy symptoms. Or hell, even if I don't end up curing my runny-nose problems, maybe I can shoot for sparkly eyes or fewer temper tantrums.

My goodness, this is not going to be an easy post to comment on! I will not be alarmed if many of you do not have any thoughts/experiences to share about the exciting topic of Nasal Irrigation. But feel free to chat about anything, snot-related or not, and pray for the speedy return of Merry Sunshine.


  1. I would marry my neti pot if I could.

  2. I'm SO buying a Neti pot for someone I know who has sinus problems - maybe I'll be allowed to observe - with a camera...

  3. You are right, speechless. Let's just leave it at EEWWWW.

    Good idea skipping the You tube videos though!

  4. I have nothing to say about the neti pot... wait yes I do... does it tickle?

    I just wanted to say that I love that pic of your cat. It absolutely kills me each time I see it!

  5. Love the neti pot.

    Finally got Sweetie one, and finally, no more sinus headaches for him to whine about. Yea!!!


  6. Hmm. I never thought of that. I might have to try it.

  7. Oh my ever-loving gosh, the neti pot instructions were HIGH-LARIOUS!!!! Holy cow I haven't laughed that hard in a loooong time!!

    I still can't get over the ick-factor of this thing. But then again, I don't have allergy problems. If I did, I'd be all over it.

  8. Oh, update please! In the future, that is. I'm sure the time between your post and now hasn't seen much change.

    I have some pretty wicked sinus allergies (my nose runs backwards, which gives me all KINDS of issues).

    I was thinking about trying the Neti pot, but, for pretty much all the reasons you listed here, I am skeptical.

    So please let us know if it starts working!

  9. Hee! Is that really your kitty? I love that pic. Anyhow, I must get me a neti pot...

  10. Oh how I wish you would post a video of your neti pot useage for us to giggle over!
    I might have to give it a try - my nose gets very dry in the winter. And I'd love to have sparkly eyes!

    Please give us an update at the end of your month's trial, preferably with an instructional video.

  11. Good for you for braving a Neti Pot. Not sure if I could. If you find it does the job, then I might try it for myself. But right now my nose hurts just thinking about it.

  12. I used one for a long time. Just make sure you keep it really clean, as in sterile. You can end up making your problem worse or adding a sinus infection to the whole situation!

    I hope you feel better. I think my neti pot helped tremendously. It is rather like getting water up your nose in a swimming pool until you get the hang of it, though, isn't it?

  13. Wow.

    Loved the picture of your cat (is it your cat?)

  14. Um. Nasal Irrigation does not sound like fun. I do have chronic allergies. They started in my teens and got worse and worse and by the time I hit my 20's I was taking allergy pills all the time and still feeling miserable most of the time. Then I moved away from home and my allergies got better. Weird, huh? I don't know if it was from living in the lush & fertile Annapolis Valley where everything grows like crazy, or from living in a 150 year old house...But now I live in Saint John, in a house with 2 very large cats, and my allergies have been so much better. Though about a month ago they started getting bad again. I'm hoping that's just because of the season, autumn was always the worse time of year for me.

  15. Tangent - have you tried eliminating wheat from your diet? One of my friends always gets snuffly when he eats wheat products - the more bread he downs, the more he drips (ew). You might want to give it a try just to see!

  16. These seem to be the rage ever since Oprah had one used on the show by Dr. Oz, I think. The whole concept kind of freaks me out, but I have friends who swear by them. A lot cheaper than Claritin D, too!

  17. The Moo knows How To Relax, doesn't she?

    I have so much trouble just using my nasal spray that the idea of actual water is too intimidating. Please report back. (My asleep self is much better at dealing with sinus drainage, so I'm not motivated as much.)

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  18. I have a Neti pot and love it - bit hard to get used to, but it's worth it!!!

    Bad Cat sneezes alot, wonder if he is allergic to ME?? hmmmm..

  19. Hi Crabby,

    Thanks for this great post and I also appreciate everyones comments.

    I have lots of sinus trouble and had heard about the neti pot a long time ago but never followed up. I'm so glad that you did. please let us know how you feel at the end of the month.

    I am going to start looking in drug stores for neti pots.


  20. My allergies prevents me from using feather blankets and pillows. Actually anything with down in it pretty much causes my nose to drip. But before figuring that out, I had acupuncture for my sinuses and that only helped a little bit. Never heard of a Neti pot until this post. My husband needs to be out of the room when I use my nasal spray. I wonder what his reaction would be if he walk in on my using a Neti pot. =)

  21. I use a neti pot and have a neti pot and love the idea of a neti pot. It creeps other people out though. I use a bit of salt and some drops. It works if you work it.

  22. Ick....I don't even like the name Neti Pot...sounds like something my Grandmother used to strain her soup with or possibly a torture device from WWI.

    Just thanked my lucky stars I don't have allergies.

    You cat is really cute though.

  23. I am put off the by the fact that the whole concept is gross and icky, but my best friend is a net pot evangelist. It has literally changed her life for the better, poor sneezy thing that she was. It has worked so well for her for over a year now that I have been considering it... but ew! How do you get over the gross?

  24. You guys are too funny! And thanks for the tips.

    As to the ick factor: it was kind of like the first time I put in contact lenses---there are just some places you don't wanna stick things! But I find I'm getting used to it, even though so far it's not doing a damn thing about the runny nose problem. Fall is the worst for me, though, so perhaps a small improvement wouldn't even be noticeable yet.

    Will definitely post an update, whether it works or not, but NO I am not going to post a video!!!!

    Tamijean, your nose runs backwards? I'm trying to picture how that would work! Do you go oooch -aH! when you sneeze? :)

    Back later, with bright shiny eyes no doubt...

  25. Hmmmnn.... Moo looks a little tense in that photo. Does she have allergies? Maybe she needs her own Neti pot!

  26. I've considered trying to use a neti pot, but I don't really have sinus issues, so given that I probably wouldn't sterilize it often enough, it might just cause problems. And then I'm trying to picture how I'd do that without dripping the water down my face all over my chest. Can you get a good angle while leaning all the way over the sink? I'm always dropping food or toothpaste on myself, so I must admit that the snot-chest factor was the first to pop into my head...

  27. My boyfriend swears by the "nasal douche". But what a mess. I might give him a Neti pot for Christmas. He'll be so surprised!

  28. I love my Neti pot, and in fact, will swap out with the Sinu-Cleanse system, which is basically the same thing but with a bottle you use to squirt a gentle stream through your nose. It does help, feels great if you've got a sinus headache (which I often do), but yes is kind of gross.

    I found it rather amusing that my ENT doc never recommended it, but my primary care told me about it. Sheesh, I wouldn't have spent so much money if I had known!

  29. I've looked at those and not been able to do it...this time of year I'm sniffling and nosebleeding with the worst of them, but I just figure I'd drown myself.
    I just can't do it...yet

  30. I tried a neti pot in spring because of chronic sinus issues. Once I got the correct head tilt manuever it wasn't bad and actually did help. HOWEVER, I ended up with both ears plugged, to the point of being painful and having to go to an ENT, who in turn put me on a round of steroids to clear it up. I haven't used it again and truthfully my sinuses cleared up with much more success by eating clean. I'm sticking to claritin for my fall allergies.

  31. I have one... I keep stopping it because it hurts my throat. You've inspired me, though... I think I'll pick it back up and see what happens!

  32. Coincidently, my sister just got me a neti pot. The one in the picture even. I'll keep you posted on the sparkly eyes.

  33. I LOVE my neti, it is kinda gross, but I have horrible allergies during the summer, and this allows me to breathe! It helps all year round and apparently is supposed to help you not get sick by flushing out bacteria etc. Its hard to do it the first time...but the more you use it, the easier it gets.

  34. I've never had to use one personally, but I've seen how they're used, and the first thing that came to me was "Waterboarding-The Home Edtion"!

  35. Overall, I'm a huge fan of the neti pot. (I resisted it like you. I bought one and didn't actually use it for two years.) But when things are REALLY bad with the allergies, I'm afraid the neti doesn't do much for me. But the normal, everyday sniffle, it definitely takes care of.

  36. Netis help with sinus headaches?? I may need to get one then, as I get sinus headaches when the barometer drops. I've been looking at them for awhile too but have been put off by the 'ick' factor. An Excedrin makes my sinuses drain (tmi?) and usually takes care of the headache, but I'd rather avoid them completely if possible.

    DH has sinus 'challenges' as well, but I don't know if I could convince him it was a good idea.

    Are you supposed to use it every day?

  37. Have to admit that I'd never heard of a neti pot - we're an uneducated bunch out here!

    Really upping the amount of probiotics you're getting has worked well for some folk with allergies.

    Lots of yogurt, aged cheese and sauerkraut is what you need, young Crab!

  38. they make these nasal bulbs for babies, that i've used for this same purpose since i was a little kid. you fill the thing with salt water, and then lean over the sink and squeeze the water up your nose and it comes out the other side. same result, without having to tilt your head in any weird angle. might consider it... they're usually blue and you can usually find them in the baby section like where the bottles are.

  39. My Dr. recommended I try this for my allergies. I refuse to take medicine everyday though, so I think he was at his breaking point.

    I use a bottle that the pharmacist showed me. It works, but it totally grosses my wife out. It is amazing how much gunk comes out of your nose.

  40. Eek. It sounds scary. Hope it works!

  41. I'm not sure why everybody thinks this is such a gross idea. :) I mean, we all sneeze and sniff. How is this any grosser? :)

    I had this recommended to me for my allergies and my constant sinus infections, but when I first tried it ... well, it felt like throwing up out my nose! Of course, I later found out that was because my septum and sinuses were fucked six ways to Sunday and I'd had an undiagnosed sinus infection for about five years.

    I had a nice fun surgery in June to fix that, and now the sinus irrigation is actually ... well, I wouldn't go so far as to say pleasant, but definitely helpful. I've found my sense of smell gets better when I irrigate regularly, and also I can generally just breathe better. It's not nearly as helpful for the allergies as a double-dose of Zyrtec, though.

    I'm not sure how it's supposed to help with allergies, really--I mean, in theory, washing the allergens out of your sinuses in a good idea, but as soon as you take a breath you'll just get more in there, right?

    All in all, I think it's a good option for people who have allergies and are prone to sinus infections, or if you're exposed to a particular allergen once and want to limit the effects (say you visit a friend with a cat and irrigate when you get home). But for everyday hayfever type stuff, I can't see how it'd really be a big help.

    Also, if you haven't already, you might try to NeilMed sinus rinse bottle instead of the neti pot--it's not as tricky to find the right angle, etc., imho.

  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

  43. Oh, and you mentioned nosebleeds. Along with the standard humidity blah blah stuff, my ENT told me to put KY Jelly up my nose. Surprisingly effective.

    And also hilarious if you forget about it and leave it sitting on your kitchen counter when you have company.

  44. I use a "home made" Neti pot (a squirt bottle filled with warm salt water. It gets me through colds and sinus problems like nothing else. We've talked about Neti on Twitter before.. Neti B Wunnerful

  45. My husband's doctor wrote "neti pot" on a prescription pad to impress upon him the importance of the thing.

    We've both used it, and it's awesome.

    On a daily basis, he uses the spray saline for nasal irrigation, reserving the neti pot for...heavy lifting.

  46. Luv the neti pot! My sinus problems are GONE.

  47. I've not heard of these before but would love to find something to sort out my runny nose - I have no idea what I'm allergic to but the resulting Vertigo is not fun :(

  48. I have friends who swear by theirs for helping with allergies and colds.

    If it would truly help with temper tantrums, I would seriously consider regular usage! ;)

    The Moo really cracks me up!

  49. After my sinus surgery, my ENT doc sold me a thingie that attached to a waterpik and shot the saline solution up my nose. I found it much easier to control that the neti pot, for what it's worth.

    Your post reminded me that it's likely time to get it out again...fall is bad allergy time around here!

  50. I started using a Neti pot last year and it changed my life. Once I got the hang of it it became second nature. I use it every morning. I avoid the gross factor by using it in the shower instead of over the sink. Turns out my shower water temp is also the perfect temp for the Neti - and I found early on that water temp is key to using the Neti and not feeling like you're drowning. Too hot or too cold and it's uncomfortable and even painful, but just the right "warm" and I don't feel it at all (which is perfect). Since I am in the shower, anything gross coming out the other nostril gets washed off and away down the drain.

    I use the saline packets instead of the premixed solution since it's a no-brainer to just do one packet per filled Neti pot. On bad days or when I am sick I use it a 2nd time before bed (although then I just do it over the sink unless I feel compelled to take another shower).

    Not only do I breath better during the day, but my chronic nighttime coughing spells (caused by torturous post-nasal drip) are mostly gone, save for the occasional bout.


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