Nasal Saline Irrigation and Neti Pots
How Do You Use the Neti Pot?
There aren't any official medical guidelines, but Neti pots usually come with an insert that explains how to use them. You might also want to ask your family doctor or an ear, nose, and throat specialist to talk you through the process so you can get comfortable with the Neti pot before trying it on your own.
Typically, to use the Neti pot or other nasal irrigation device you would mix about 16 ounces (1 pint) of lukewarm water (distilled, sterile, or previously boiled) with 1 teaspoon of salt. Some people add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to buffer the solution and make it gentler on the nose, but there isn't any real proof that this improves the experience. Be sure to use distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution.
Once you've filled the Neti pot, tilt your head over the sink at about a 45-degree angle. Place the spout into your top nostril, and gently pour the saline solution into that nostril.
The fluid will flow through your nasal cavity and out the other nostril. It may also run into your throat. If this occurs, just spit it out. Blow your nose to get rid of any remaining liquid, then refill the Neti pot and repeat the process on the other side. It's important to rinse the irrigation device after each use and leave open to air dry.
How Often Do You Need to Use the Neti Pot?
In studies, people suffering from daily sinus symptoms found relief from using the Neti pot or other nasal irrigation system daily. Three times a week was often enough once symptoms subsided.
Is the Neti Pot Safe?
Research has found that the Neti pot is generally safe. About 10% of regular users experience mild side effects, such as nasal irritation and stinging. Nosebleeds can also occur, but they are rare. Reducing the amount of salt in the solution, adjusting the frequency of Neti pot use, and changing the temperature of the water appear to reduce side effects.
To prevent infection, always use distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water. Also, it's important to properly care for your nasal irrigation device. Either wash the device thoroughly by hand, or put it in the dishwasher if it's dishwasher-safe. Follow by drying the device completely after each use.