Whether it's a nasty cold or allergies causing your congestion, it may be time to give a neti pot a whirl. This teapot-looking device may seem a little odd at first glance, but it's recommended by ear, nose, and throat doctors to relieve nasal congestion and pain. To a newbie, using a neti pot may seem torturous, but with a few helpful hints, you'll be a neti-pot know-it-all in no time. Watch this video showing how to use a neti pot and keep these important tips in mind.
- Go for plastic: Metal and ceramic pots might be pretty, but they tend to break or warp when dropped. A plastic neti pot (I like Rhino Horn neti pots) is lightweight, easy to travel with, a cinch to clean, and you don't have to worry about it shattering if it accidentally drops on your bathroom floor.
- Type of salt: There's no need to splurge on special salt to use with a neti pot. Regular table salt works fine, but be sure it's not iodized, as that can cause irritation. Follow the directions that your neti pot came with and measure out the salt exactly rather than eyeballing the amount. Typically the ratio is one teaspoon of salt to 16 ounces of water.
- Water temperature: The temp of the water is key to the comfort of the sensitive tissue inside your nose. If water is too hot or too cold, stinging or irritation may occur. After pouring in the salt, add about one quarter of the recommended amount of warm water to the pot, cover the spout with your thumb and the top opening with your other palm, and shake gently to dissolve the salt. Then fill the neti pot with the remaining water. If the salt isn't completely dissolved, your nose will not be pleased.
- Get the right head position: In order to prevent water from going down your throat, try this technique: lean over the sink so your face is parallel with the floor. Place the spout in your right nostril and then tilt your head to the left so your left ear is now parallel with the floor. Keep leaning forward so the water drips into the sink (and not down your throat).
- Try it in the shower: Sometimes you're so stuffed up that when you try to neti, nothing happens. If that's the case, use the neti pot in the shower. After a few minutes of breathing in the steam, grab your pot (with the salt already added), and fill it with a little water. Cover the spout and top opening and shake to dissolve the salt. Fill up the rest, and it's ready to go. Not only does the heat loosen up mucus, but no tissues are needed.
- After using the neti pot: Blow your nose to get out all the extra water and mucus, stand up, bend at your waist and hang in a forward bend for a minute or so to get any leftover fluid out. Nod your head yes and no, then blow your nose one last time. You might find that about 30 to 60 minutes after you neti, a little leftover water might suddenly drip out of your nose when you bend over to tie your shoes or when in your yoga class. Don't be alarmed, just keep tissues close by after a neti pot session.