Sinus Rinses For Allergens
At first, the idea of putting salty water up your nose might sound daunting. But for many people with allergies, once they try and get accustomed to sinus rinsing, they find it really helps.
In fact, nasal rinsing is having a bit of a ‘moment’ as interest in this age-old method has peaked as it is now being included in COVID prevention protocols. More on this later.
Nasal rinsing can be helpful for allergies, congestion, prevention of bacterial colds and to help prevent viral infections.
Both seasonal and year-round allergies begin when an offending substance, such as pollens, pet dander, mold or spores, finds a passage into your body. Oftentimes, that’s your nostrils. By running homemade saltwater or a pre-made saline solution through your nasal passages, sinus rinsing physically flushes out those allergens, reducing the load on your system.
Along with expelling allergens, sinus rinsing also clears out any mucus that may have built up in your nostrils and sinuses. Clearing this out reduces the chance that bacteria can gather and stagnate leading to sinus infections or common colds.
Lastly it can be great if you suffer from dry sinuses or nose bleeds. Irrigating your sinuses also does a great job at moisturizing them!
There are many ways to do sinus rinses. Follow our simple guide below for successful rinsing!
Pick Your Device
- Traditional Neti Pot: Many people are familiar with this option now, but it looks like a little “Aladin” or geenie shaped bottle that you put in one nostril and pour in, while the solution runs out the other side
- Sinus Rinse Bottle: This is similar to the Neti pot, but this one can be more user-friendly as there is less tipping and coordination involved; instead, you squeeze the solution in. Be careful to remove the bottle from the nostril before letting go of the squeeze, or you will create suction and possibly contaminate your bottle before doing the other side.
- Saline Nasal Spray Bottle: This is the typical nasal spray bottle, just with a saline solution already in it. This option is great for on the go and also if you hate the feeling of having something going in one nostril and out the other. However, you can get drainage down your throat or dripping out of your nose. This is also great for kiddos, like this spray.
Pick Your Solution
The solution you choose to rinse with is critical. If you use a solution that is not at the correct pH or tonicity, irritation and burning can occur. Follow these rules to ensure maximal comfort and safety:
- Do not use tap water. Tap water is not safe to use as it may have bacterial contamination or additives that can harm the nasal tissue. It is best to use a purified option like distilled water.
- Do not use plain purified water. The isotonicity of the solution matters and if you use plain water
- Use a premixed packet. These are great and can offer special additives that are safe for the nasal area and may offer additional benefits like Xlear with xylitol, a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that prevents bacterial adherence in the sinuses. Or you can always stick to a plain saline solution packet like this one.
Here is a recipe for a simple nasal irrigation rinse that is adjusted for pH and tonicity to make sure there is no burning:
This solution can be used and stored for 1 week before needing to be discarded.
Please be careful with the newer protocols that include nasal rinses with ingredients that have not been studied for safety in the nasal area. We have seen many people asking about these for COVID prevention and we recommend instead using regular saline or xylitol solutions with proven safety records. These will still be effective for physically reducing viral particles in the area and improving the overall health of the sinus tissue when done regularly, which naturally supports your immune defenses and lessens your infection risk.
Assume the Position
Once you are ready to rinse follow these simple steps for successs:
- Lean over a sink at about a 45-degreee angle and turn to one side (ear facing the drain)
- Breathe normally, but out of your mouth not your nose
- Insert device and tip (Neti Pot) or squeeze (squeeze bottle)
- Aim the stream at the back of your head, not at the top of your head
- Let solution drain out of the other side and into the sink (its okay if you swallow a little bit)
- Turn head and repeat on other side
So there you have it, rinse like a pro! Whether it is the winter for nasal dryness or congestion or the spring for allergies, there is no real downside to nasal rinsing once you get over the semi-strange sensation.
One last tip, if you use a nasal medication, you should always use your saline solution first. The nasal medication is much more effective when sprayed onto clean nasal membranes, and the spray will reach deeper into the nose!