How to Use a Neti Pot

A 7-step neti pot program for sinus health

Users swear by it. Nasal passages are irrigated by it. So whether you are looking to ward off a cold, are sick of suffering from frequent sinus infections or want to promote sinus health, using a neti pot just might be the best way to irrigate your nasal passages.

With a flush of saline solution through one nostril at a time, using a neti pot clears the nasal passages of mucus, dust and pollen that might otherwise settle into the sinuses, forming a perfect breeding center for bacteria and infections.

Here's how to use a neti pot to irrigate nasal passages for improved sinus health and treatment of sinusitis and allergy symptoms. (Ideally, the neti-curious should talk to an experienced practitioner before the first flush or trying holistic remedies.)

Step 1: Get a neti pot

Most drugstores carry neti pots for between $7 and $25, depending on whether the pot is ceramic or plastic, and how many saline solution mix packets come with it.

Step 2: Pick a location

What comes out of your nostrils may not be something you want to clean off the carpet, so find a comfortable position over the sink, in the shower or bathtub or outdoors — and don't wear your Sunday best.

Step 3: Make the solution

Whether your neti pot came with a packet or you are making your own solution (with ¼ teaspoon of noniodized salt and eight ounces of water), it is important to pick a temperature suited for Goldilocks — not too hot, not too cold, but just warm enough to match your body temperature.

Step 4: Prepare and pour

  • Tilt your head back and to the side opposite from the nostril you will pour into and relax.
  • Insert the spout of the neti pot into the upper part of your nostril and pour a good amount in there.
  • During this procedure, you should breathe through your mouth — don't hold your breath.
  • After you've poured, tilt your head down and tuck in your chin, allowing the mixture to flow out of the other nostril.

At this stage, it's a good idea to keep your mouth closed.

Step 5: It shouldn't hurt

If it hurts to irrigate your nasal passage, chances are the solution is too hot or too cold, or has not been thoroughly mixed. Adjust the temperature and mix well before irrigating your other nostril.

If you feel comfortable, repeat all the above steps on the other nostril.

Step 6: Remove remaining water from nasal passages

The best way to clear any remaining water from your nasal passages is through quick breaths through the nose, with your head tilted down and from side to side. Avoid the temptation to hold one nostril shut and push air out, as this could send the solution the wrong way.

Step 7: A breath of relief

Most people seeking improved sinus health are very pleased with their results after using a neti pot. The worst part is overcoming the fear of "nasal irrigation." Once you give it a try, it should be smooth breathing from now on.

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