Nasal Irrigation

Types of Saline Products

A number of different saline products and techniques can be used inside the nasal cavity. For example, saline drops or sprays are often used. These can be purchased over-the-counter (OTC). They are easier to use than nasal irrigation; however, in most cases, nasal irrigation is more effective.
 
A variety of devices can be used to irrigate the nostrils, including bulb syringes, bottle sprayers, and Neti pots. Nasal irrigation kits also are available over-the-counter. The saline mix itself can be purchased, or you can make your own solution (see the following recipe).
 
There is little evidence to suggest that any particular form of nasal irrigation is clearly more beneficial than others. Therefore, the choice of irrigation devices or techniques should be guided by personal preference.
 

How Often Should I Use Nasal Irrigation?

How often saline nasal irrigation is recommended will vary, based on what you are treating and how severe the symptoms are. For example, for the common cold or allergies, it is often recommended to irrigate the nose one or two times a day. For chronic sinusitis, nasal irrigation may be needed up to four times a day.
 

Nasal Irrigation Recipe

An isotonic saline (0.9%) solution is probably the least irritating and is most similar to the body's natural fluids. Pure water can actually be quite irritating. Solutions with a higher concentration of salt (known as hypertonic solutions) are sometimes recommended, but are also more irritating.
 
There are several different ways to obtain an isotonic saline irrigation solution. Small packets are available that are mixed with a specified amount of water. Or, you could buy premixed isotonic saline (found in the contact lens care area), but this would certainly be expensive for regular use.
 
You can also make your own. Use the following recipe to make an isotonic saline solution:
 
  • Clean a one-quart glass jar. It is best if the glass jar has a screw-on top.
  • Into the glass jar, mix the following:
     
    • 1 teaspoon of pickling/canning salt (don't use table salt because it contains a number of additives)
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda (not baking powder)
    • 1 pint of warm water (not hot).
 
Make sure to mix the solution enough so that all the salt dissolves. You can store the solution at room temperature for up to one week.
 
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