What Does a Neti Pot Do?

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    Purpose

    • A neti pot is a natural drug-free process to flush out nasal passages by thinning mucus with a saline (salt water) solution. This practice is used to treat nasal allergies, sinus problems or colds, and nasal dryness, and may reduce swelling of the nasal membranes. This process is also appropriate for individuals who may worry about the long-term effects of using steroid nasal sprays.

    Procedure

    • The solution consists of 8 oz. of warm water and a quarter teaspoon of non-iodized salt. Standing over a sink or basin, an individual turns his head to the side at a 45-degree angle, inserts the pot into the upper nostril and pours. The solution will flow through one side of the nose and out the lower nostril. The procedure is then followed with the other nostril, flushing out mucus, allergens and irritants. How often the neti pot is used depends on individual preference.

    Recommendation

    • Neti pots can be recommended by doctors to patients who have undergone sinus surgery to rinse away crusting in the nasal passages. Patients who have chronic sinus symptoms related to bacterial infections, allergies, and environmental irritants can also use a neti pot to alleviate congestion, facial pain and pressure, and reduce the need for antibiotics and nasal sprays.

    Cilia

    • Neti pots can improve the function of tiny hair-like structures, called cilia, which line the nasal and sinus cavities. Cilia wave back and forth, pushing mucus either to the nose where it can be blown out or to the back of the throat where it can be swallowed. Nasal passage and sinus problems cause the cilia to move in a slow and uncoordinated way. The saline solution used in the neti pot helps to increase the speed and improve coordination of the cilia. Bacteria, allergens and other irritants are eliminated when the cilia move more effectively.

    Safety

    • Any side effects an individual experiences using the neti pot usually subside by changing the temperature of the water, the frequency of use, or amount of salt in the solution. The pot should be thoroughly cleaned after each use to prevent infection. Periodically, the utensil should be placed in the dishwater for a thorough sanitizing. Like other personal hygiene devices, the pot should never be shared.

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