Published June 21, 2022
There are lots of ways to get rid of a sinus infection. But one thing you’ve probably heard most about is the neti pot. So does using a neti pot really help with sinusitis?
In general, using a neti pot does help with sinusitis. It helps clear your nasal passages thus relieving pressure and facial pain. But there are also risks involved in using neti pots. So if you’re planning to use it, make sure to do so in moderation and exercise some caution.
If you’re not sure whether or not you should use a neti pot for your sinusitis, this post will help you decide.
What Exactly is a Neti Pot?
In a nutshell, a neti pot is a vessel or container typically filled with salt water and used to irrigate the sinuses. It’s commonly used to relieve congestion and other symptoms of sinus infection, allergies, and colds.
The practice of nasal irrigation traces its roots to Ayurvedic medicine and was introduced to the west in the early 1900s. But it’s only in the 21st century that the neti pot and other nasal irrigation devices have gained significant popularity.
Traditionally, neti pots are made of ceramic with a kettle or teapot-like shape and a long spout. But today, they are made of a wide range of materials in varying shapes and sizes. You can even buy disposable ones for sinus rinsing on the go.
How Neti Pots Can Help With Sinusitis
As mentioned, neti pots have been used for sinus relief since ancient times, and for good reason.
Our sinuses, if you didn’t know, are four paired cavities at the back of our nose connected by narrow channels. Their main function is to produce mucus that helps keep the nose clean by draining out bacteria and other debris.
But sometimes, viruses and bacteria can enter through those cavities and trigger inflammation. As they swell up, they block your air passages making it hard for you to breathe.
To fight the infection, your sinuses will also start producing thicker mucus. But since the passages are blocked, they can’t drain into your throat. So they build up within your sinuses and mix with the dirt and bacteria, causing further inflammation.
Irrigating your sinuses with a neti pot helps clean out your sinus walls by flushing out all the built-up dirt and bacteria. It also loosens the hardened mucus making them easier to drain our flush out of your nose. With no bacteria, viruses, or mucus plaguing your sinuses, the inflammation will subside and so will most of the sinus symptoms.
Remember, however, that nasal irrigation only works for sinuses caused by allergies or viral infections. If your sinus problem is due to more serious concerns like nasal polyps or a deviated septum, you may need surgical treatment.
How to Use Neti Pot for Sinusitis
Using a neti pot is pretty straightforward:
- Fill the neti pot with a saltwater solution. Make sure to use distilled or sterilized water.
- Tilt your head sideways. Make sure to level your head and chin to avoid water flowing into your mouth.
- Place the spout in the upper nostril.
- Gently pour the saltwater solution until the water drains out of the other nostril.
- Repeat with the other nostril.
Since it involves water draining out of your nose, it’s best to do this on your sink or in the bathroom. If not, you can also use a bowl or washbasin to catch the dripping water.
Is It Safe to Rinse Your Sinuses With a Neti Pot?
If used properly, rinsing your sinuses with a neti pot is generally safe. But, as I’ve said, there are risks to using a neti pot such as:
- the water being contaminated with bacteria and fungus
- germs and bacteria building up in your neti pot
- you’re allergic to the material which your neti pot is made of
To use your neti pot safely, the FDA recommends the following:
- use only distilled or sterilized water
- if you only have tap water, make sure to boil them for at least 3 to 5 minutes
- wash your neti pot after every use making sure every nook and cranny is cleaned and dry with a paper towel
- follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use
How Many Times a Day Can You Do a Sinus Rinse?
While it can be tempting to irrigate your sinuses as often as possible, it’s not really a good idea. In fact, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends rinsing your sinuses only once a day. Though you can increase it to twice a day once your symptoms have subsided.
That’s because salt can dry out your sinus walls. This can prompt your sinuses to produce more mucus. But all this excess mucus can build up and provide the perfect breeding ground for viruses and bacteria leading to infection. In short, over-irrigation of the nasal sinuses can also lead to a sinus infection.
This is one of the reasons why some people may experience worsened symptoms after a nasal irrigation. If this happens, put your neti pot down and don’t hesitate to call or visit your doctor.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a professional writer and SEO specialist. She works hard to ensure her work uses accurate facts by cross checking reputable sources. She is the lead author for several prominent websites covering a variety of topics including law, health, nutrition, and more.