Allergy Nose — 09 November 2011
5 Facts about Neti Pots

Millions of Americans suffer from sinusitis or sinus infections each year. In Utah, we see patients who live with sinus infections year round and they wonder what they can do for sinus relief.

Sinusitis or a sinus infection occurs when the membrane lining of the sinus becomes inflamed. Patients often describe symptoms like a stuffy head, headaches, clogged nasal passages. Some even describe feeling like their head is going to explode. Fortunately, heads don’t explode from sinus infections, so rest easy.

Read: 20 Questions about Sinusitis and Sinus Infections

Sinus infections respond well to antibiotics and decongestants. But many sinusitis sufferers ask us about natural sinus remedies. One of the most popular you’ve likely heard about is a Neti pot. Dr. Oz introduced this natural nasal irrigation solution on the Oprah Winfrey show. Soon Neti pots were flying off the shelves at local drugstores.

But the question remains: does a Neti pot work?

Let’s look at 5 facts about Neti pots.

Fact #1: Neti Pots Work to Drain Clogged Sinuses

Does a Neti pot help drain clogged sinuses? The simple answer is yes, the Neti pot can help drain your sinuses. In fact, many ear, nose and throat doctors recommend Neti pots following sinus surgery and many recommend a Neti pot to help drain clogged sinuses.

Does that mean the Neti pot is the ultimate sinus-clearing solution? Probably not. But it can provide relief for patients with clogged sinuses.

Fact #2: Neti Pots Come from India

There is nothing new about Neti pots or saline nasal irrigation. There is documented use of Neti pots thousands of years ago in ancient Indian history. The idea goes way back yet the goal of nasal irrigation remains the same today: relieve allergy, cold or sinus symptoms by running warm, pure saltwater through one nostril and out the other.

It sounds a little strange, and indeed, the first time you try it, it may feel just as strange as it sounds. We’ve included a video that shows how to use a Neti pot if you want to give this alternative therapy a try.

Watch a video of how to use a Neti pot

Fact #3: Neti Pots Best Used for Temporary Relief

Our patients ask if Neti pots can be used daily. Yes, in the short term. But if you experience lingering sinus infections or inflammation, you may have a sinus issue that should be evaluated by an ear, nose and throat doctor. At the Ear, Nose and Throat Center, our Utah ear, nose and throat doctors look closely at your sinusitis symptoms and recommend the right course of treatment that may include the use of antibiotics, decongestants and sinus surgery, when necessary.

Fact #4: Side Effects Are Limited

Regular use of a Neti pot can trigger side effects in about 10 percent of users. Typical side effects include a stinging sensation within the nose or general nasal irritation. In rare cases, a bloody nose has been observed following use of a Neti pot. But generally speaking, Neti pots have become popular simply because they are viewed as a gentle and affordable way to help deal with clogged sinuses.

If you do encounter side effects, simply reducing the amount of saline in the water can help. Or adjust the water temperature (cold water is a bad idea but too warm can also be a problem). You may also want to adjust how often you use a Neti pot. Make some modifications, then trust your body to point you in the right direction. And if you still have questions, refer to fact #5 below.

Fact #5: Ask Your Doctor if a Neti Pot Is Right For You

Okay, that headline sounds like the disclaimer on your typical prescription drug advertisement. But the advice is sound. If you have questions about your sinuses, sinus infections, Neti pots or any other nose or breathing issues, talk to one of our board-certified ENT doctors in Salt Lake City, Draper and Park City, Utah. We’ll work with you to determine if a Neti pot can help you treat your sinus issues. And we can also diagnose and treat lingering sinus issues.

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