When the common cold hits and a your head is stuffed up to your eyelids, you will do just about anything to be able to breath through your nose. Saline nasal lavage sounds quite disgusting at first, but often works better than other remedies. Once tried, it often becomes a staple in the medical repertoire of those who have experienced the relief it provides.

To perform the procedure on yourself you will need:

If you do not have normal saline sitting around the house, you will have to manufacture your own. You can do it imperial or metric:
  • Imperial: Mix 1/4 tsp of salt in a cup of water
  • Metric: Mix about a gram of salt into 250 ml of water
(Either Kosher salt or table salt is fine.)

Finally, put the solution in the bowl and test with your finger to make sure it is not too hot or too cold (you should almost not be able to feel the water if it is at the right temperature). When assured of the temperature, tilt your head forward a bit, put the lip of the bowl to your nostrils, and begin to snort the saline up into your nasal passages.

The sensation is unpleasant but not unbearable, and with perhaps a false start or two most people can get the hang of it. Once the saline is pulled up into the nasal cavities, you can "gargle" it a bit by letting air bubble up through it. Saline will almost always make it into the back of the throat, and when you have washed the sinus tracts for a few seconds, you can expell the saline from your nose and mouth.

Repeat this once or twice, and you will have significantly improved your ability to breathe. Saline nasal lavage is not by any means curative, but can certainly be palliative.

Further notes:

tdent says re Saline nasal lavage: This is called neti or jala neti in Hatha yoga... when done with the correct type of pot.

A technique for washing out the nose and sinuses.

How to use a Tibetan nose pot

  1. Buy a Tibetan nose pot at your local hippie store. (If you are a hippie, or pretentious, or Tibetan, you will want to call it a neti pot.) Or, get an empty plastic sports bottle – the kind with a squirty nozzle tip. Having used both, I prefer the plastic bottle; but I insist on still calling it a Tibetan nose pot, for the sake of tradition and comedy. If your nose pot is ceramic, as the hippie version usually is, fill it with hot tap water to pre-warm it.
  2. Put a quarter teaspoon (or a few big pinches) of salt in your (empty and warm) nose pot. I always use unrefined sea salt. Use what you like.
  3. Run the hot water tap until it feels close to body temperature. Add about three-quarters cup to your nose pot.
  4. Swirl, shake, or stir the salt water until all the salt is dissolved. SERIOUSLY. The last thing you need is chunks of salt in your sinuses.
  5. Taste the water. It should be as warm and as salty as tears. If not, adjust to taste. If you do this well, you’ll feel no stinging, just lovely comforting fake tears in your sinuses. Nobody likes stinging, so do this well.
  6. You’re ready to irrigate! Stand over the sink, and bend your head forward slightly. Then rotate your head to the left. Imagine that your right eye is now directly above your left eye – doesn’t matter it if really is. Hold your nose pot to your right nostril and keep inclining your head (to the left) and the pot (upward) until fake tears flow into your nose, filling your sinuses. You may find it helpful to hold your throat in a “swallow” position, holding your breath; or keep your mouth open and breathe. Whatever works. I’ve done this hundreds of times and have never choked or drowned, so relax. You may feel some postnasal drip at the back of your throat.
  7. Your goal is for the fake tears to flow out of the opposite nostril. If you’re using a sports bottle, don’t be tempted to try squirting the water forcibly up your nose! However, a tiny bit of gentle pressure can be helpful.
  8. Put the nose pot down and gently blow the water out your nose. Most likely, some colorful stuff will follow it. (You might be lucky enough to see more stuff than you realized could fit in your entire skull. You lucky, lucky dog.)
  9. Repeat with the other nostril, and so on, as many times as you feel like it.

Why use a Tibetan nose pot

  1. Brings sweet relief during stuffy nose season.
  2. Washes bacteria from the sinuses, probably.
  3. Produces temporary sensation that oxygen is hitting your mucus membranes for the very first time.
  4. Provides interesting biofeedback into the actual, heretofore unsuspected extent of your nasal passages.
  5. Is less expensive than over-the-counter saline nasal flushes, and easier than snorting salt water out of a bowl.
  6. Could be a cultural experience, if using Tibetan nose pot in Tibetan monastery.
  7. Is entertaining.
  8. Just feels good.

Neti Dhoti (Sanskrit) is a simple Yoga treatment to clean out the nasal passages. Aside from cleaning out the passages of gunk that's been sitting there for a long time, it helps reduce headaches, helps you smell better.

The cleaning process is done with a saline solution, poured through one nostril and drained through the other one. Breathing exercises are recommended before cleaning with the solution. See below for full details. This treatment is simpler than it looks.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in Yoga or this treatment. I have seen this done and I've tried it myself once. The results have been positive so I'm sharing it here. I learned this through a friend who uses it regularly and has Yoga background. The descriptions are as accurate as I can make it. Treat this as a make your own bomb node. It's meant to be informative and not an encouragement to actually do it.

Neti nasal passage
Dhoti washing out or cleaning

The Treatment

Preparing the water

The water needs to be lukewarm, around room temperature. Clean filtered water is recommended. Warm the water in a pot and dissolve about half a teaspoon of salt. You can use sea salt for more natural ingredients. Test the water w/ your finger. You don't want the water to be hot! You may burn yourself. The water will be traveling your nasal passages after all. Pour the water into a pot or anything that has a long snout.

The berating exercise

A set of breathing exercises are done in order to prepare the nasal passages. Take one hand, place the thumb on one nostril and place the index finger and the finger next to it on your forehead together. Your fingers should touch your forehead right above the eyebrows. You should be able to place the third finger on the other nostril. This will allow you to close either of the nostrils. Unfortunately I can't remember the purpose of the 2 finger on the forehead.

Close one nostril and breath is as much as you can. Close the open nostril and open the closed on. Slowly breath out. Repeat this 5 times and switch so you now breath out the nostril you were breathing in from.

The second exercise is the same except short bursts are used instead of one single smooth outgoing breath.

Do these exercises while sitting and don't lower your head.

The cleansing process.

We're not ready to use the water. You can do this over the sink or over a large bowl. Tilt your head towards one shoulder and make sure your head is perfectly horizontal. Place the snout on the top nostril and slowly pour the water. Keep the flow continuous to put constant pressure on the water. Make sure to be breathing through your mouth throughout the process. You may feel some of the water at the back of your mouth but that's normal. You will feel the water traveling through your forehead and eventually drip out of the lower nostril. Hopefully it will be draining out gunk.

After about a minute. Tilt to the other side and try again.

When done, blow your nose to completely drain your nasal passages of any water. You should now feel clearer. It's better to do this in the first half of the day so the water eventually drains by the end of the day.

I have only tried this once so far and the water did not drip out of the other nostril. Apparently I'm quite clogged and my friend had not seen anything like it! I will continue to try this. Two other friends of mine have also tried this treatment and had positive results.

Again, this is meant to be an informative node and not a source to carry out this treatment.

A surprisingly effective way to deal with allergic rhintitis (hayfever) - just wash those pollens and other allergens away!

After my most recent bout with hayfever, my allergist gave me a new little gadget in addition to the numerous drugs that I take to stay functional. It looks a little like something you might pick up in the adult toy department (mine is pink), but once you see past that it is a useful little thing.

The gadget is a tube about 8 cm long, fitted with a nozzle that fits in a nostril (see below). The thing is filled with a salt solution while held horizontally, you place your thumb over the open hole, fit the nozzle to a nostril while leaning forward, let the thumb let go and slowly return towards an upright position.

                     / \ 
 ___|  |____________/   \
|                        |
|                        |

At the correct angle the salt solution starts flowing and you can feel how a long sequence of channels and cavities get flushed out until the solution comes out the other nostril. Repeat for the other nostril. It sounds a little gross and some people apparently cannot stomach even the thought of doing this themselves, but it is the single most helpful thing I do for my condition. Plus, salt is cheap!

If you are going to try this you should try to find the little gadget described above, but maybe you can improvise. You don't need to buy expensive solution, one teaspoon of salt in a half liter water will make an appropriate strength solution.

That little gadget described above is known as a "netty pot".< /p>

Interestingly enough, the "netty pot" is not necessary to perform a successful nasal wash. The technique itself is derived from traditional chinese medicine. The next time you are taking a hot shower, cup your hands to catch the water, and gently inhale some of the water into your nose.

Continue to inhale until you feel the urge to cough and/or sneeze. Some of the water may be trickling down the back of your throat at this point.

This may sound uncomfortable, but it really isn't compared with the effectiveness and relief brought on by this technique.

Now you may either cough or blow the water out of your nose. A significant amount of mucus will be expelled. You can repeat this process until your sinuses feel cleared and your ability to breathe has improved.

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