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The Truth About Mucus

Call it snot, call it mucus, call it a booger -- but don't underestimate what it does for you.

Neti Pot Option

If you want to go a more natural route, an alternative for removing mucus is with nasal irrigation. The neti pot, a little teapot-shaped device, is one form of nasal irrigation. Others include the bulb syringe or squeeze bottle.

Every nasal irrigation method works by the same basic principle: You shoot a saline (salty water) solution up one nostril to loosen up all the mucus that's collected in your nasal cavity, which then drains out the other nostril. It's similar to cleaning gunked-up food off a dinner plate in the dishwasher, Kao says.

According to the CDC, if you are irrigating, flushing, or rinsing your sinuses, use distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution. It’s also important to rinse the irrigation device after each use and leave open to air dry.

Nasal irrigation is a good thing, but as the old saying goes, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Rinsing out your sinuses washes out the bad, nasty bacteria and other critters that can cause infection. However, one study showed that when people do it too often, nasal irrigation might actually increase the risk of infection because it also washes away some of the protective substances that help prevent you from getting sick. So use your neti pot or other nasal irrigation device when you need it, but take a break from it when you feel better.

 

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Reviewed on April 10, 2014

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