Mucus can wear many hats. When everything is working properly, your mucus cleans, hydrates, and warms the air you breathe, flowing in a continuous cycle through the sinuses of your face before draining painlessly down your throat.
But when illness strikes and that mucus has a chance to dry out, then it ceases to perform as an all-purpose lubricant and warmer, and transmogrifies into a concretized villain bent on revenge.
The Pain of Sinus Pressure
This is the root cause behind sinus pressure, a signature symptom of sinusitis, colds, and flus. Because mucus is continuously produced, when it can no longer drain due to occlusion or inflammation, the resulting build-up presses against the inner chambers of your skill, producing agony from your eyes to your teeth.
Releasing this pressure cooker is a paramount goal for anyone with sinus pain. Most people start with steam, either by inhaling the stuff straight from a pot, or by taking a long, languorous shower. This can be effective for a while, but it is hardly a panacea in truly stubborn cases. Deeply impacted areas require something a bit more aggressive.
The Tao of Neti Pots
Enter the neti pot, an age-old folk remedy with some serious real-world cred. Numerous studies have underscored the efficacy of the neti pot, as researchers have cited its unique combination of warmth, water, and mechanical action to clear impacted sinuses and give many people fast relief.
So how does it work? This video tells the tale: the neti pot is filled with warm, sterile water. Then the user tips her head slightly to the side, and the fluid is literally poured up one nostril, cascading over the top and out the other side. Sound medieval? It is, quite possibly literally. But it’s also one of the easiest ways to flush your nasal system with a steady irrigating flow. And it has been proven capable of breaking up dry mucus in seconds.
Neti Pot Pro Tips
But not every potbelly container with a spigot is a true neti pot. Neti pots can come in countless shapes and sizes, including some truly unorthodox designs, but the key is to find one that can remain clean and comfortable in your nose. The classic shape looks like a teapot, but different nostrils may require different shapes for the best results. In other words, YMMV.
By far, the two most important things to remember are sterile water and proper temperature. Room temperature water is often too cold for these sensitive membranes, for instance, while boiling water is extremely dangerous. You may also want to add some saline solution to create a neutral fluid that doesn’t “burn” on impact with more osmotically charged tissues.
Heed This Warning!
But the sterility is the biggest point. Regular tap water still contains trace elements and microbes, even when filtered through a conventional home water filter such as a Brita. You need to get distilled water at the store – or, failing this, boil the water you have for at least five minutes to ensure that it’s free of bacteria. (And then let it cool for a LONG time.) Failure to protect yourself from water-borne bacteria can literally be fatal.
Final word: The neti pot is a wonderful invention for fighting sinus pain and pressure, but it is only a first step. If you find that your sinus symptoms aren’t getting after better a couple of weeks, or you are getting sinus infections frequently throughout the year, then it’s time to contact your sinus doctor. Call us today for an appointment.