Nasal Saline Irrigation

January 25, 2010

Nasal irrigation is an effective way to improve sinus drainage, promote nasal mucosal ciliary function, decrease nasal mucosal swelling and clear the nasal passages of bacteria and allergens.  Saline nasal irrigation can decrease symptoms of chronic sinusitis and reduce the use of medications.  It is an ancient personal hygiene practice used for centuries in parts of Asia and the Middle East.   Before starting nasal irrigation on a daily basis, please see my January 7, 2010 blog entry with some new interesting information.

Traditionally, nasal irrigation is done using a small vessel called a neti pot.  Neti pots can be purchased in select health food stores and through yoga institutes.  Two on-line sources through which you can buy a traditional neti pot that I recommend are: and  Although I recommend these two sources for purchase of the neti pot, I do not specifically endorse the various solutions they may also have available to use with the neti pot. 

Instructions: The most important aspect of an effective nasal wash is holding your head in the proper position. Lean over the sink so you are looking directly into the basin and rotate your head to the side so that one nostril is directly above the other. The forehead should remain slightly higher than the chin.  If the forehead is not higher than the chin the saline solution will flow into the frontal sinuses (sinuses above the eyes) and this can cause a headache.  If the forehead is too much higher than the chin, the saline will drain into your mouth.  If you rotate your head too much, the saline may drain into your eustachian tube which will cause you to feel like your ear is a little clogged. 

Gently insert the spout into the upper nostril so that it forms a comfortable seal. Keep your mouth open and raise the handle of the neti pot so that the solution enters the upper nostril and drains out through the lower.  You should be able to comfortably breathe through your mouth during the wash.  You should rinse each nostril with the volume of saline solution that fits into one pot.  When the pot is empty, rotate your head so you are looking into the sink and exhale through both nostrils to clean them of excess mucus and water. has a good instructional video for proper use of the neti pot. 

Saline Solution for one pot:

Distilled water to fill the pot

¼ heaping teaspoon of plain salt such as kosher salt (not iodized and not sea salt)

A pinch of pure baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) (Optional)

Mix to dissolve salt


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