By Meghan Presnell, FNP-C
I’m a little teapot, short and stout- and into your nose goes my little spout. Ok, so this isn’t exactly how the nursery rhyme goes, but it helps illustrate the point. Sinus rinses are very popular for the treatment of allergies and clogged passages. They usually come in two forms, a pot (usually called neti-pot), or a squeeze bottle. These are filled with saline, or saltwater, which is then rinsed through the nose and nasal passages. When used properly, these rinses have been proven effective at moistening these passages and clearing out mucous and potential allergens.
Recently the safety of sinus rinses has been called into question because of high-profile cases of individuals becoming infected with dangerous organisms. However, when used properly these are a safe and effective treatment for sinus and allergy symptoms. So what does proper use involve? This means using distilled or sterile water, which you can find at most grocery stores and pharmacies. If you don’t want to purchase distilled water, then water can be boiled and allowed to cool, and then can be stored up to 24 hours. It is important NOT to use tap water, as this can contain bacteria or amoebas, which CAN cause infections. The water is then mixed with a saline packet that usually comes with a nasal rinse kit, but can also be purchased separately. But doesn’t saline burn you might ask? Well if you are in the ocean and get a nose-full of salt water diving into a wave, yes. However the concentration of saline that is used in a neti-pot is close to the salinity of your natural body, and is actually less irritating than plain water. So go ahead, rinse and repeat.
Remember that as with anything, it is always important that you consult your medical provider before beginning any new medications or medical regimens. So stay salty.