Nasal Irrigation - by Alisha Mehta MS (content from Kinray Completely Up Front Monthly Planner)
Why nasal irrigation
Nasal Irrigation is important because it allows a large volume of solution to travel through the nasal passages, creating a momentum that sweeps away excess mucus and allergens, which cannot be done by saline sprays that only reach the entrance to the nose. While this sounds more burdensome, the volume is definitely relevant. The difference between saline sprays and saline irrigations can be likened to using a garden hose to wash the driveway on the sprinkler setting, rather than on the full flow setting.
How to perform nasal irrigation
Nasal irrigation can be performed with a squeeze bottle or a neti pot, a tea pot shaped device. Both methods require preparing a warm saline solution using a mixture packet and distilled, bottled or previously boiled water. NeilMed moisture packets contain only natural ingredients, sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate. If using a neti pot, fill the pot with solution, place the tip under the nostril, tip your head to allow solution to enter the nose. Gravity allows the solution to reach all the way through the nasal passages and come out the opposite nostril. You then do this on the opposite side, gently blowing the nose after each side.
The squeeze bottle achieves the same result, but instead of tilting to the side, you can bend over the sink while standing upright. Then gently squeeze the bottle until the solution flows out of the bottle, into the nose and out the opposite nostril. Do this on both sides.
Nasal irrigation for children
Hesitations to use medications on children is a legitimate concern. Antibiotics and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can be harmful for young children. When it comes to natural remedies, many products can be overpriced and ineffective. However, salt water, also known as saline, used as a nasal treatment is a cost-effective, natural treatment with a proven history. Some may say it is the best natural decongestant. Both neti pots and squeeze bottles can be used on children four years and older; while children one to four may use approved saline sprays with special nozzles or specially designed saline vials.
Is it safe?
Saline rinsing is a very safe procedure that contains no drugs, only natural ingredients. However, water safety is a critical issue because even tap water that is safe to drink may not be safe to put in the nose.
The nose is an entrance to the body and the nasal passages are not immune to bacteria that the digestive system can handle. Only distilled, micro-filtered through a .02 micron filter (not a Brita filter), commercially bottled, or previously boiled water is safe. This is to prevent unwanted organisms from entering the body and spreading infection.
It is also important to keep your device clean. Disinfect devices by washing the bottle or neti pot with soap and water, and place in microwave for 60-90 seconds to sterilize. Devices should also be replaced every three months. Always read the instructions and safety precautions of any saline product you buy at the store.
Saline nasal irrigation is a safe, effective, and affordable method of relieving nasal symptoms due to allergies, colds, sinusitis, rhinitis and many other causes.