Nasal Irrigation

Step-by-Step Nasal Irrigation in Adults

To irrigate your nasal passages, choose a syringe, squeeze bottle, or other nasal irrigation device.
  • Pour the amount of fluid you plan to use into a clean bowl.
  • Warm up the solution. You can use the microwave, but make sure the solution is not too hot. If the solution is too hot or too cold, this can cause discomfort. In general, it is recommended that the water be similar to body temperature. You may find that warmer or cooler water is more pleasant for you.
  • Bend over the sink and squirt the solution into each side of your nose. Aim the stream toward the back of your head. Let the solution run out the other side of the nose. You should use about ¾ cup (200 mL) per nostril or until the nose feels clean. It is okay if some of it goes into the back of your throat.
  • After each session, wash the syringe or bottle in warm, soapy water. Rinse well, and squeeze to remove any water.
(If you are using a Neti pot, click How to Use a Neti Pot for step-by-step instructions.)
A couple of other things to keep in mind:
  • You might get a burning sensation the first couple of times. This will usually go away after a couple of sessions.
  • If you are using a nasal medicine, such as a nasal steroid spray, use the nasal irrigation first. It will make the medicine more effective.

Nasal Irrigation in Infants

To irrigate an infant's nasal passages:
  • Place the infant on his or her back.
  • Using a clean nose dropper, place one to two drops of saline solution that you either made or purchased in each nostril. Wait two minutes.
  • Squeeze and hold a bulb syringe to remove the air. Gently place the tip of the syringe into one nostril, and release the bulb. The suction will draw mucus out of the nostril.
  • Squeeze the mucus out of the bulb and onto a tissue.
  • Repeat several times until most of the mucus is gone.
A couple of other things to keep in mind when irrigating a child's nose:
  • It is best to irrigate the nose before your child eats. After feeding, the process can cause vomiting.
  • After each session, wash the dropper and bulb syringe in warm, soapy water. Rinse well, and squeeze to remove any water.
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