Stuffed up noses and blocked sinuses: yuck. Winter brings it on strong. Here’s how you can get rid of congestion for good, by pouring sterile water through your nose using a neti pot.
Breathing cold, dry winter air sucks. Or, rather, it doesn’t: sometimes things are so stuffed up in your sinuses that no air comes in.
What to do? Many solutions for treating nasal congestion exist.
You could install a vaporizer on your furnace, if you have a few thousand dollars to spare.
Or, you could always tuck a dab of Vaseline up your nose each day. Yum. But with humidifiers being expensive and the fact that frequent Vaseline in your nasal cavities can potentially kill you, there’s room for an additional solution.
Enter: neti pots. Using a neti pot to cleanse your nose is a practice that goes back thousands of years. It grew out of an ayurvedic yoga tradition in ancient India, with the word ‘neti’ meaning ‘nasal cleansing’ in Sanskrit, and has been saving snotty noses ever since.
The beauty of using a neti pot to hydrate your nasal passages is that it’s so easy to do.
You simply tilt your head to side, and pour distilled, sterile water through your nose. (Important: never use tap water!!)
It’s also obviously better for the environment to use a reusable container, rather than buying repeated bottles of nasal spray from the drug store encased in plastic, and furthermore, once you have your own neti pot, it will cost next to nothing to use it.
How Does It Work?
A neti pot works by rinsing dirt, dust, and pollen out of your nose, and loosening thick mucus. It can do a host of good things, including help relieve nasal symptoms of allergies, colds and the flu.
But are there any drawbacks?
Steven Osborne, M.D., a medical officer in the U.S Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) reinforces the importance of using the right type of water in your neti pot in order to stay safe.
Regular tap water should NEVER be used in your neti pot as it can contain small amounts of bacteria that are otherwise harmless for us, but if they get a chance to lodge in your nose and take hold — you’re in trouble.
The bacteria can grow and cause mega problems (serious illness). If you use sterile water, distilled or boiled water, you won’t ever have this problem.
It’s also super important that you keep your pot clean, and only for your own personal use.
Neti pots are like toothbrushes, says Osborne, and so they shouldn’t be shared. Again, bacteria can spread from nose to nose, something you don’t want.
Where Can I Get One?
Naturally, you can buy a neti pot on Amazon. If you’d prefer to see it in person before forking over the cash, Walgreens sells a clear plastic version, and sometimes you’ll find local ceramics artists who specialize in making these useful items. Google away and see if you can find one in your area.
Follow these neti pot guidelines outlined by the FDA, and enjoy clear breathing in January, just like it’s June.