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What's it like: To use a nasal irrigation system

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: November 17, 2013

Why use a nasal irrigation system?

Oklahoma is generally not kind to allergy sufferers. Oklahoma City and Tulsa both rank usually high in spring and fall allergies.

Some allergy sufferers don't want to use a lot of medication and would instead prefer to use a more natural approach.

That's where nasal irrigation comes in. During nasal irrigation, a person runs a saline-type solution from one nostril to the other, clearing out the sinuses along the way. Using nasal irrigation can help some people relieve symptoms including congestion, nasal drainage, sinus pressure and excessive mucus production.

There are a lot of different apparatuses to deliver the saline to the nose. One of the more popular techniques is the Neti Pot, which resembles a teapot with a long spout.

What happens?

To begin, you'll need some type of nasal irrigation device. You can generally find these devices at pharmacies or drugstores, but you might also have something at home that could work, as long as it is clean. For example, you could use a soft rubber ear bulb syringe or an infant nasal bulb, again, as long as they're clean.

Before you start, you'll need to mix the solution that you'll use. You can use the solution mix that comes with commercially available apparatuses, or you could make your own.

For example, you could use pickling or canning salt that doesn't contain iodide, anti-caking agents or preservatives; baking soda; and one cup (8 ounces) of lukewarm distilled or boiled water. It's important not to use tap water. It's recommended you use distilled or boiled water to ensure safety — but make sure it's not too hot before you put it in your nose.

To perform nasal irrigation, you will flush your nasal cavity by pushing water through one nostril. The water will go behind the nasal septum and come out the other nostril. While performing nasal irrigation, you'll have to tip your head forward and away from the nostril where you're applying the solution. This directs the saline out the other nostril.

Clearing your nose beforehand can sometimes make the process easier. And your doctor might recommend you use a nasal spray before attempting to perform nasal irrigation.

Does it hurt?

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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