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A neti pot is a popular home-based treatment for nasal congestion. If you’re experiencing upper respiratory congestion or recovering from nasal surgery, you can buy a neti pot and use a store-bought or homemade solution to irrigate your nostrils.
This procedure can clear out mucus and temporarily restore ease of breathing. A neti pot is considered safe as long as you follow safety guidelines and use the device as directed.
A neti pot, which looks similar to a tea pot, flushes out mucus from your nose. Using a saline solution with the device instead of just water helps decrease irritation.
People have used the neti pot to clear out their nasal passages for hundreds of years.
If you’re congested from a cold or allergies, you may want to consider using a neti pot. Your doctor may even prescribe a specific solution to use in a neti pot if you’re recovering from nasal surgery.
To use the device, pour the saline solution into one nostril at a time. The solution will flow through your nasal cavity and come out of your other nostril.
According to a 2009 study, saline solution may:
- cleanse your nasal cavity
- remove inflammation-causing elements
- improve the ability of your respiratory system to self-clean
Use the neti pot once a day if you have sinus congestion. If you find it to be effective, you may want to try it twice a day while you still have symptoms.
You may find the use of a neti pot so effective that you choose to use it regularly.
Here’s a video that illustrates how to use a neti pot:
Use the neti pot in a room with a sink.
- Add the saline solution to a clean, dry neti pot.
- Bend over the sink and look straight down at the sink basin.
- Turn your head at a 45-degree angle.
- Gently press the spout of the neti pot into the nostril closest to the ceiling.
- Make sure you have a seal between the neti pot and your nostril. The neti pot shouldn’t touch your septum.
Breathe through your mouth during this step.
- Tip the neti pot so the saline solution reaches your nostril.
- Keep the neti pot tipped while the solution runs through your nostril and leaves through your other nostril.
The solution will drain out of the nostril closest to the sink basin.
- Continue to pour the solution into your nostril until the neti pot is empty.
- Once you’ve used all of the solution, remove the neti pot from your nostril and bring your head up.
- Breathe through both nostrils to clear out your nose.
- Use a tissue to absorb remaining saline and mucus that drips from your nose.
Repeat the steps above to use the neti pot on your other nostril.
Neti pots can be a great solution for congestion, but it’s important to use caution when trying nasal irrigation. Here are some tips to help you use the neti pot safely:
- Use only distilled water, tap water boiled for several minutes and left to cool to a lukewarm temperature, or properly filtered water.
- Don’t use water that’s too hot or too cold. Water that’s lukewarm or room temperature is best for your neti pot.
- Always clean and dry your neti pot after each use. Wash the neti pot with hot water and antibacterial soap. Dry it thoroughly with a fresh paper towel, or let it air dry.
- Replace your neti pot as often as you replace your toothbrush to avoid bacteria and microbe buildup.
- Discontinue use of your neti pot if it stings your nostrils, causes ear pain, or doesn’t improve symptoms.
- Talk to a pediatrician before using the neti pot on a young child.
- Don’t use a neti pot on an infant.
Preparing a solution for a neti pot can be done at home.
When doing so, it’s important to use the right type and temperature of water. Some water can carry organisms that may be harmful to you.
There are several types of water safe to use in a neti pot:
- distilled or sterile water available for purchase from a store
- tap water that’s been boiled for several minutes and cooled to a lukewarm temperature, which you can store up to a day in advance
- water that’s been filtered using a specifically designed filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or less to capture infectious organisms
Don’t use surface water or water straight from the tap in a neti pot. If you’re concerned about the safety of your water, always use distilled water.
Neti pot solution
Follow these steps to create your saline solution:
- Add 1 teaspoon of kosher, pickling, or canning salt to a 16-ounce glass of lukewarm water.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the glass.
- Stir the solution.
You can store the remaining solution at room temperature for up to two days.
If your nostrils sting for any reason after using this solution with the neti pot, use half the salt when making another batch.
Using a neti pot is a safe, effective way to reduce upper respiratory congestion at home. Make sure to prepare your saline solution safely and clean your neti pot after every use.
You should only continue using a neti pot if it relieves your symptoms. If you find the neti pot to be ineffective or if it irritates your nasal passages, talk to your doctor.