I’m not going to pretend that at first, I wasn’t freaked out by the idea of sinus irrigation. I didn’t understand why someone would want to pour water up the nose and I envisioned it to be a difficult process requiring struggle and discomfort, like getting water up their nose when swimming, which is uncomfortable and makes the head heavy and the person dizzy. Well, the same symptoms can occur with nasal congestion, which sinus irrigation eliminates quickly, easily and safely (unless you use water with contaminated with brain-eating amoebas).
I’ve always suffered from nasal congestion. Each season presented a different kind of suffering when it came to the sinuses. The winter air is dry and harsh, and because it is so dry, dust and other particles are able to move much more freely through the air. In spring, summer and fall, there is loads of pollen and other irritants everywhere, so even though the air may have more moisture and particles can’t float around as much, the shear number of particles is overwhelming.
When I first moved to Missouri in 2007, I experienced all of these symptoms more powerfully than I ever had before. Missouri is known to be one of the worst states for seasonal allergies and sinus suffering. For the first six months after moving there, I had more sinus infections, colds and viruses than I could remember having in the previous five years. Let’s just say, I was pretty miserable much of the time…until I started using a neti pot twice a day. (In Seattle, I use my neti pot every morning and second time only as needed.)
Some people don’t need to use a neti pot twice a day or even every day. They can use it just when they start to feel congested or have a cold.
Practicing Jala Neti (sinus irrigation with a neti pot) is very easy and surprisingly relaxing. Even if it were not, it is totally worth being able to breathe freely and not suffer the pain of congestion or the side effects of medications. The whole process takes about three minutes. In my view, Jala Neti is far superior to any kind of over-the-counter or prescription decongestants or nasal sprays, which tend to make you drowsy, dizzy, over-dry the sinuses or worse, can be addicting. And believe me, I’ve tried them all, so I know!
If you want to try Jala Neti, but aren’t sure what to do, it’s easy to find instructional videos on YouTube. It’s also easy to find a neti pot online or at a local health food store. Most places that sell a neti pot also sell the appropriate salt. It’s basically pure sea salt. You shouldn’t use table salt because it has been treated and de-mineralized during processing and the idea is to use a salt-water solution which is similar to the fluids found in our own bodies.
The process is this: put the recommended amount of salt into your neti pot and fill with warm water. The water should be roughly the temperature of the body. Stir well. Lean over the sink and place the spout of the neti pot just inside the lip of one nostril. Breathe through the mouth as you tilt the head in the direction of the open nostril. The warm water will run in one nostril and the out the other. Just breathe through the mouth and be relaxed as this happens. Blow gently between nostrils. Do both sides and then gently blow the nose. You might need to experiment with how much you lean forward or tilt your head as well as with the amount of salt and the temperature of the water. With a little practice, you will figure out what works best for you.
Your sinuses will be much happier, and so will you!