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What is…nasal irrigation?

If you suffer from clogged nasal passages and other upper respiratory ailments caused by allergies or sinusitis, you know how miserable the experience can be. One way to get some much-needed relief is through nasal irrigation, a therapy that uses a salt and water solution to flush out the nasal passages.

The basics

When your body starts fighting a virus or during an allergic reaction, it creates extra mucus, sometimes clogging the sinus cavities in your face. Nasal irrigation lets you flush out mucus and debris from the nose and sinuses. You also can use saline spray or nebulizers to moisten the mucus membranes.

One of the most popular nasal irrigation methods is the neti pot, which looks like a small, oddly shaped tea pot with a long spout. You fill it with a special saline solution, tilt your head over the sink at about a 45-degree angle, place the spout into your top nostril, and pour the solution into that nostril. The fluid travels through your nasal cavity and out the other nostril. Always wash the device after use and follow by drying it completely.

Fast facts

  • The earliest record of nasal irrigation is found in the ancient Hindu practice of Ayurveda.

  • Bulb syringes are often used for nasal irrigation for infants and children

  • To avoid the risk of infection, it’s best not to use tap water, which may contain small amounts of bacteria that, in the nose, can be harmful.

  • Experts recommend not irrigating more than once a day.

Clear the air

Whether or not nasal irrigation is right for you, clearing the air of allergens is a great way to prevent blocked nasal passages. Here’s how:

  • To keep the air free of allergens when it’s hot, try to close windows and use the AC.

  • Vacuum and dust regularly, including outside entryways, and wear a mask when cleaning.

  • Cut down on clutter which traps dust and other allergens.

  • Use a smart air purifier with a HEPA filter, like Coway Airmega, which can help keep the air clean.