Cold water and fresh water irritate the mucus membranes. Therefore the water you use for nasal cleansing should be somewhat salty and it should be at about body temperature. The body fluids contain 0.9 % salt. There are 3 grams of cooking salt (1 level tsp.) to 3 dl water in a neti pot.
The water may be boiled first if you are unsure of the quality of the water.
- Pour one level tsp. (= 3 gr.) cooking salt in the nasal cleanser. This should not be salt substitutes or iodized salt, but regular cooking salt.
- Fill the cleanser with moderately warm water. Shake the cleanser so that the salt dissolves.
Rinsing the Nose
Follow the next steps closely. Should there be a problem, read further for help with possible mistakes you may be making.
- Place the tip of the spout in the nostril which feels most open - from the side, not from the front - and press lightly up into the nostril so that the nostril closes tightly around the tip.
- Breathe through the mouth. It is not possible to breathe through the nose at the same time as water is running through it.
- Bend slightly (not much) forward from the hips so your head is over the sink. Keep your chin tucked in towards the body. Do not stick your chin out.
- Turn your head a little so you are looking to the side (NB: remember to keep your chin in). The water will flow in through one nostril and out through the other.
- When about half of the water has run through, raise your head up and remove the cleanser. A little water will run out of your nose, and you can empty the nostrils by closing one at a time and blowing gently out. Do not blow so hard that it makes the ears pop.
- Pour the remainder of the water through the other nostril now.
All Water Must Come Out
Make sure there is no water remaining in the nose and sinuses after nasal cleansing. It is not good for the mucus membranes to have water there for long periods - especially in the winter. There may be no water left inside, but check in case some remains:
- Bend forward so the top of your head is hanging down. Turn your head to the side, close the lower nostril with one finger and blow gently, not hard, through the upper nostril. Hold some tissue paper in front of your nose.
- Move your head to a horizontal position, face towards the floor and blow out of the same nostril. Blow a couple of times in each position. If necessary, you can repeat steps 9 and 10 several times.
- Repeat steps 9 and 10 to the other side.
- Stand up and blow a few times in and out of each nostril to «dry» the nose. (If you practice Yoga, Headstand, Sirsasana, and the breathing technique Bhastrika may be done after nasal cleansing.)
After using the neti pot it is emptied of water and left for drying. Virus and bacteria cannot survive on a dry plastic surface. After drying the only virus and bacteria on the neti pot will be those that are already in the air we breathe.
Ear nose and throat doctors recommend you to look upon a neti pot as a personal device - just like a tooth brush. If, though, more people are going to use the neti pot after one another, it must be rinsed with boiling water.
Am I Doing Something Wrong?
Problem: The water is not running through the nostrils
Solution: There can be two reasons:
- The nose is stuffed/clogged because the mucus membranes are swollen. You cannot breathe through one or both nostrils and water will therefore not run through.
The warm saltwater has a relaxing effect on the mucus membranes and can open up a stuffed nose. Let the water remain in the nostril for about 5 seconds, then pour from the other side and let the water remain in the nose for a while. Repeat from side to side until the water begins to run through.
- You may be holding your neti pot at an angle, pressing the tip into the wall of the nose and stopping water from entering the nostril.
Problem: Water runs down your mouth and throat.
Solution: Your chin may be too far out. Move your chin closer to your chest. This stops water from running down your throat.
Problem: It's unpleasant
Solution: If there is too little salt in the water, it creates pressure. If there is too much salt or the water is too cold, it stings. The water isn't too warm, is it?
Recommended by Ear, Nose and Throat Doctors
A number of Ear, Nose and Throat specialists in Norway have declared that:
"This method of rinsing the nose with lukewarm saltwater is an easy and gentle way of removing crusts and foreign particles from the nasal passages. It's simple to do and has no harmful side effects. Nasal cleansing has proved to be highly effective in the prevention and treatment of sinusitis, and is also a useful component in the treatment of chronic sinusitis.
Those suffering from pollen and dust allergies may in many cases reduce their symptoms by practicing nasal cleansing."
Exaggerated use of nasal spray is harmful to the mucus membranes. It may create an enhanced tendency for the mucus membranes to get swollen. Saltwater has a natural relaxing effect on the mucus membranes and makes them more resistant to virus and bacteria. Warm saltwater also stimulates the natural purification mechanism of the respiratory system. It increases the removal of mucus and particles from the lungs.
How Often Can I Use A Neti Pot?
A neti pot may be used daily if desired. In special situations - e.g. in the case of high pollen counts that you are reacting to or if you are suffering from a cold or severe sinusitis - nasal cleansing may be practiced two to four times a day. Normally, used for regular hygiene, preventative measures and for general well-being, once a day is sufficient.