If you’re an avid surfer and have experienced having cold seawater get into your nasal passage during rough surf, then you know that the experience is truly unpleasant. This is the same feeling you get when you use the neti pot. Perhaps, it was that same experience that inspired the inventor from India to come up with the nasal irrigation that can help to relieve some of the most annoying allergy symptoms. And although the experience is initially unpleasant, it’s the best relief from clogged sinuses.
Allergic rhinitis is one of the worst symptoms of nasal allergies and this happens as a result of excess mucus production, which also results to several other symptoms such as a runny nose, stuffy nose, and irritated sinuses and nasal passages. Those who suffer from allergies could develop chronic rhinosinusitis, a continuously inflamed condition brought about by irritated or infected sinus.
A few centuries ago, followers of the Ayurveda, an ancient Indian medicine system, have introduced the use of warm salt water in flushing nasal cavities in order to remove excess pollen, mucus, and other debris.
Also called the “nasal lavage” or the “nasal douche”, the nasal irrigation system makes use of two simple ingredients – salt and water. With the help of a specially designed vessel known as the “neti pot”, it delivers a stream of salt water towards your nasal cavities passing into one nostril and then getting out on the other. Practitioners of the Ayurveda would usually do this up to four times a day without the need to dip in the sea.
Followers of this technique have claimed that it offers great relief against nasal irritation and congestion. They also believe that the technique can help to minimize headaches brought about by the congestion of the sinus. Furthermore, it also helps people to minimize their reliance towards antibiotics when it comes to combatting sinus infections. The device also lessens the use of nasal corticosteroid sprays in controlling all the allergy-related nasal inflammations. Users of the device have reported feeling “empowered” in taking full control of their allergies and they have agreed that it has delivered huge improvement in the overall quality of their life.
Several clinical trials were done and most of these trials have shown that nasal irrigation is indeed safe and a well-tolerated procedure. Yet they acknowledged that the procedure is indeed cumbersome and requires a bit more effort compared to other methods of taking medications.
At its best, the nasal irrigation procedure offers significant improvements when used to treat a wide range of allergy symptoms. A group of researchers from San Diego, California has conducted a study on 200 patients using the nasal irrigation. The patients have experienced great improvement in the 23 out of 30 symptoms they are suffering from, plus a total improvement in their quality of life.
3 Common Neti Pot Dangers
Using the neti pot also comes with dangers, yet these are totally avoidable.
Using the Wrong Water
Last 2011, there are two unrelated deaths that occurred in Louisiana, one was a 51-year-old woman and another was a 20-year-old man. Both were believed to have died from using contaminated tap water that contains lethal bacteria.
The safest and the best practice in using the neti pot is to use sterile or distilled water that comes from an unopened bottle water or from a filter. Otherwise, you can boil tap water for up to 5 min and leave it to cool until it becomes lukewarm before using it for your neti pot.
The US Food and Drug Administration has released a consumer notice last year that encourages the manufacturers of the neti pot to provide more accurate information to consumers at the product’s packaging. Yet, warnings against the use of tap water have been left off in most neti pot labels.
Neti pots should generally come with saline solution packets. However, for those who will choose to prepare their own saline solution, health experts have recommended adding a non-iodized salt in a quarter of one teaspoon for every 8 ounces of water.
When using a neti pot, one should treat it just like a dish where it requires cleaning after every use. This is to prevent bacteria from growing around the edges or at the spot of the neti pot. When cleaning the device, one must pay utmost attention to the spout, which connects the pot since this is the area where the salt tends to accumulate often.
If you’re thinking of buying the neti pot, find out if the product you’re buying is safe for the dishwasher. Choose something that has a wide opening in order to allow for the thorough flushing of the residual germs.
Furthermore, health experts have advised against sharing the neti pots with others. This is just like your toothbrush where it’s gross to share with others. When using the neti pot, the spout will form a seal at the inner part of your nostril and the bacteria in your nose could get left behind in the spout. Thus, sharing the device could also mean sharing the bacteria.
Although nasal irrigation using salt water is endorsed by 87% of physicians as it could lead to short-term symptomatic relief, there are pieces of evidence that suggest the prolonged use of the neti pot could be dangerous for you.
On a recent study, it was found that long-term use of the neti pot could lead to up to eight episodes of rhinosinusitis each year. This was compared to patients who have discontinued the use and have seen an average of only three episodes each year. Thus, the researchers have concluded that prolonged exposure of the nose to the saline solution could deplete the mucus’ protective blanket, which is responsible for fighting infection.
The problem has something to do with the long-term use of the nasal saline and on a daily basis. Those who have been using the nasal saline on a regular basis have made them feel like it’s the permanent solution to their problem, but they are actually only patching up the problem. This was according to the leader of the researchers.
Thus, they have advised people not to use the device for more than 1 – 3 weeks at a time. If their nose is still congested after that period, it’s about time that they see a doctor since there’s probably a more serious condition underlying the symptoms.
How It’s Done?
The neti pot is an easy-to-use device. It looks like a small teapot where warm and sterile water is mixed with pure salt and placed inside the pot. To use the device, slightly tilt your head to one side and gently place the spout at your nostril and let the solution drain into your bottom nostril.
As stated, it’s important that you use sterile water for the neti pot. You can prepare a saline solution by adding the proper amount of pure and non-iodized sodium chloride into the water.
Here are the two solutions you can come up with:
Hypertonic. This is made up of 0.7% to 0.3% salt solution
Isotonic. This consists of 0.9% salt and 9 grams of sodium chloride dissolved in a liter of water
Kosher salt is a great source of pure sodium chloride, as it has no added minerals. Furthermore, nasal irrigation should only make use of distilled water and must never be used with tap water. Using sterile water is essential for safety and the salt helps to prevent the uncomfortable burning sensation that comes with the use of non-isotonic solutions.
Isotonic solutions have enough dissolved solids that can match with the concentration of the solutes that get dissolved in blood. Understandably, seawater is an isotonic solution consisting of water and salt. However, the seawater must not be used deliberately because it comes with a high risk of unwanted contaminants.
Below are the step-by-step instructions on how to get started with using your neti pot.
Choose the Right Equipment. The neti pot can be bought online or at any drug stores near you. You can choose a kit that only comes with the device or another that comes with a pre-made saline solution.
Choose the Right Location. Next, decide where to use the neti pot. You can use it over a bowl or sink, either in the shower or outside your home. Make sure you have a tissue nearby and if you’re using it for the first time, wear clothing that you can possibly wet with water. This is why it’s recommended that you use it over the shower when you don’t have some clothes on.
Prepare the Solution. To be safe, it’s highly recommended that you use distilled water. If you don’t have distilled water, consider boiling your own tap water. Always use warm water and test the temperature by putting a small drop of water in your forearm or take a sip from it. If you find it comfortable, then that should be good to use. If you will be using the pre-packed solution, simply stir the solution to the warm water. If you’re going to prepare your own, apply the ratio of 1 tsp. salt to 2 cups of water.
Start the Flush. After you have prepared the warm saline solution and added it to the pot, lean over your sink or in a bowl and slowly tilt your head on the side. Then slowly insert the neti spout to your upper nostril. Make sure that the spout is inserted fully so that water will not leak out of your nostril. When doing this, open your mouth wide and breathe through it. Relax for a few seconds and the water will soon be streaming out of your other nostril. Use half of the solution on your first nostril while the other half is for the other nostril. Stand upright and gently blow your nose in order to clear it with water. If there is some water that got drained into your throat, then don’t worry about that. Just spit it out. Try to come up with a technique and angle in tilting your head to allow for the water to freely flow out of your nasal passages.
After the Flush. You can blow your nose gently again in order to clear your nose of the solution. Avoid blowing your nose forcefully or you’ll end up driving the solution towards your ear canals and sinuses.
Rinse Your Neti Pot and Store It Somewhere to Air Dry.
Does the Neti Pot Really Work?
Some ENT surgeons would suggest the application of nasal irrigation using a Neti pot or some other methods. This is especially applicable to patients who have gone through a sinus surgery and needed to clear away the crusting within the nasal passages. A lot of people who are suffering from allergies and sinus symptoms resulting from environmental irritants have also started the use of Neti pot regularly, as well as some other devices for nasal irrigation. They believe that these devices have helped to alleviate their nasal congestion and improve facial pressure and pain. A few research studies have also backed up these claims. They find the nasal irrigation to be very effective in relieving sinus symptoms if used along with the standard treatments for sinus.
The most basic explanation on how the Neti pot functions are that it thins out the mucus and help to flush it off the nasal passages.
A more biological explanation of how the device works have something to do with the tiny and hair-like structures known as cilia, which lines the inner part of the nasal and the cavities of the sinus. The cilia tend to wave back and forth and will push the mucus towards the back of the throat where it can either be blown out or swallowed. The saline solution used in neti pot can help to speed up and improve the coordination of the cilia so they could effectively remove the irritants and allergens brought about by the problems in the sinus.
How Often Should You Use the Neti Pot?
In some studies, people suffering from sinus symptoms daily have found relief in using the neti pot and other devices for nasal irrigation on a daily basis. Using the device three times a week should be enough to keep the symptoms subside.
Is the Neti Pot Safe?
Research has found that using the Neti pot is safe and only a small number of regular users have experienced mild side effects. Among these side effects are nasal stinging and irritation. Nosebleeds may also occur but in very rare cases. Reducing the amount of salt for the solution and adjusting the frequency of use, as well as changing the water temperature could help to tone down the side effects.
To prevent any infection, always use sterile and distilled water. Otherwise, you can boil your own water. It’s also very important that you take good care of the device well. Wash it thoroughly by hand or use a dishwasher if it’s dishwasher safe. Make sure the device is dried completely after washing.
If you end up suffering from certain side effects or you have developed an infection for some reasons, you better talk to your doctor about it.
5 Nasal Allergy Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
If you’ve been diagnosed with nasal allergies, you could suffer from sneezing that could last for the whole day. However, there are ways on how to deal with these symptoms. Whether you are someone who is allergic to tree pollen, dust mites, and animal dander, you must find relief for your allergy symptoms.
Remember that if your allergy symptoms are not treated as early as possible, they could get worse as time goes by.
Below are some of the allergy symptoms that you should never ignore and what you can do with them.
Runny or Stuffy Nose
One of the most common allergy symptoms is the runny or stuffy nose. The best thing that you can do is to treat the allergy that’s triggering your runny nose. Begin by avoiding the allergy triggers. However, if you are still not aware of what your allergy triggers are, then you better seek help from an allergist.
While it may be difficult to totally avoid the triggers, there are ways to minimize your exposure with them. For instance, if your allergen trigger is pollen, then avoid places where you get into contact with pollen. If your dogs or cats can make you sniffle, always wash your hands or change your clothes after you play with them.
There are some people who find that the use of nasal irrigation through neti pot can help to clear their nasal congestion. Over the counter drugs, such as decongestants and antihistamines may also help in controlling the nasal allergy symptoms.
Avoid using the nasal sprays for more than 3 days at a time. Always read and follow the instructions that come with the label of any over the counter drugs you plan to take.
If none of the remedies will work for you, your doctor will prescribe some other treatments.
If in the event that none of your symptoms will get better in a week or if it has gotten worse after five days, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Sinuses refer to small cavities located at the back of your cheeks, forehead, and eyes. If mucus will start to build up in these areas because of your allergies, you will start to feel pain or pressure.
You can minimize sinus congestion by applying warm and moist cloth into your face or inhaling the steam for a few times every day. You may also use a saline nasal spray. But if the pain and pressure are still there after more than a week, then it’s time to see your doctor.
If you’re suffering from an uncontrollable sneezing, then you know that it’s such a nuisance. In fact, some people would suffer from severe sneezing that it ends up interfering with their everyday life. However, don’t wait for your sneezing to become too serious before you seek relief.
If avoiding the allergens that caused you to sneeze is not possible, you may want to consider using over the counter antihistamine medication. Make sure you read and follow the instructions stated on the label of the over the counter medications you plan to take.
Watery or itchy eyes are some of the most common symptoms of allergy. They can be annoying sometimes, but these symptoms will not trigger any serious vision problems.
Again, the best way to prevent itchy eyes is to avoid the things that could trigger your allergies. For instance, if you’re allergic to pollen, then always keep your windows shut if you’re inside and when you’re going out, wear sunglasses to keep your eyes protected. Avoid rubbing your eyes even if it’s itchy. Doing so will only irritate your eyes.
The best way to soothe your eyes from the irritation is to place a cold washcloth over them. There are some over the counter medications and eye drops that have antihistamine and are effective at relieving these symptoms.
We normally swallow mucus without us even realizing it. However, if your mucus gets thicker or if you end up having more mucus than the usual, this could result in postnasal drip. This is when you will start feeling the mucus dripping from the back of your nose and towards your throat. Postnasal drip will also feel like a lump in your throat that could lead to irritation or pain.
Aside from avoiding the allergy triggers, drink enough fluid or use the saline nasal spray to thin the mucus. Check with your doctor about some other ways on how you can effectively get relief.
8 Home Remedies for Nasal Allergies
Allergies are tough to manage and they can be more difficult for your child to deal with. To ease the discomfort that your child feels, it may be best to take her to the doctor. But a lot of times, the ability to fight off nasal allergies is linked to the immune system, there are some home remedies that you can try to help ease your child’s suffering.
Raspberries and blueberries contain flavonoid and Vitamin C that can help mitigate some histamine response in allergies among kids. Although organic berries are often the best, conventionally grown versions can be a healthy addition. Simply serve a ¾ cup of these berries to your kids once or twice in a day. You can mash the fruits if you’re still trying to introduce solids to your tots.
Apples also contain flavonoids and Vitamin C, as well as quercetin, a substance that could act as a stabilizing agent for mast cells. Mast cells are considered important mediators of allergy since they are capable of releasing histamine. Since chunks of raw fruit could be choking hazards for smaller kids, it may be best to peel the apples and grate them before serving. You can also choose to bake them at around 400-degree Fahrenheit or until it’s softened.
Quercetin is also found in onions, although most kids don’t like the taste of onions. If this is the case, then you may ask your kids to consume these in the pellet form. These are safe for kids more than two years old. Make sure you follow the instructions that come with the onion pellets.
This sweet treat often gets mixed reviews. However, it’s definitely worth giving a shot. The concept behind the use of honey is that bees collect the pollen and pollens are often behind these allergies. Therefore, if you’re going to consume honey on a regular basis, your body could get used to the allergen just like the bees.
However, the problem is that the pollen, which is responsible for asthma, allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis, only came from plants that are wind-pollinated and honey does not have enough of the pollen allergen. You can choose to buy honey seasonally and start introducing 1 to 2 granules to your child, working up to one teaspoon each day.
The use of apple cider vinegar is not new. This age-old immune boosting natural remedy is also effective at fighting off allergies. In fact, it’s also used to treat various illnesses. The dosage recommendation would vary, but doctors suggest mixing 1 tsp. of vinegar to 8 oz. of water.
Dishes that are made with fresh ginger, cayenne pepper, and fenugreek can help to thin out the mucus and open the nasal passages. This is because the capsaicin, which is a substance found in most spicy foods, work by desensitizing the nasal nerve fibers.
Is your child suffering from itchy eyes as a result of nasal allergies? Then try the cold compress on your child. This should help to reduce the soreness and itch. Furthermore, advise your kids against rubbing their eyes, as this will only make the itchiness and irritation worse.
Water can certainly work wonders when it comes to treating allergy symptoms. Older kids can give nasal irrigation a try with the use of a saline solution, either homemade or bought from the drugstore. Drinking enough water every day is very important. Sneezing and blowing could dry out your throat.
Precautions When Treating Allergies
If the allergies are moderate or mild, they’re not really threatening and may simply go away after some time. However, for severe allergic reactions, they require immediate medical attention because they could lead to dangerous symptoms.
Anaphylaxis is a term used to refer to the severe allergic reaction and this could happen after getting in contact with food allergens, drugs, or insect stings. Some of the symptoms could affect the blood vessels, lungs, and heart and may result in the tightness of lungs, difficulty in breathing, blood pressure changes, chest pains, fainting, dizziness, vomiting, etc. If you or your child suffers from any of these symptoms, you must immediately see your doctor to prevent any further complications.
Causes of Seasonal Allergies
Seasonal allergies could happen after your immune system identifies the airborne as dangerous. Your immune system would respond to these substances by releasing histamines and some other chemicals in your bloodstream. These chemicals are responsible for the development of the allergic reaction.
Some of the most common triggers could vary depending upon the season:
The trees are usually responsible for the seasonal allergies in springtime. Birch is usually the number one offender, where most people tend to react against its pollen. Some other allergic trees in North America are cedar, horse chestnut, willow, alder, and poplar.
Hay fever got its name from the “hay-cutting season”, which, by tradition, takes place during the summer months. However, the real culprits of the summertime seasonal allergies are the grasses, which include the timothy grass and ryegrass.
Autumn is known as the ragweed season. Ragweed is available in more than 40 different species all over the world and most of them grow in the temperate regions of South and North America. These plants are invasive and are a bit difficult to control. Their pollens are a very common allergen and the symptoms could get severe.
Come winter, most of the allergens outdoors will lie dormant. Thus, cold weather will bring relief to people suffering from hay fever. However, this could also mean more people will be spending their time indoors. If you’re someone who is prone to seasonal allergies, you could also react to indoor allergens, like animal dander, molds, dust mites, and cockroaches.
Indoor allergens are much easier to remove than the outdoor allergens and here are some tips on how you can get rid of them:
- Clean moldy surfaces well including those places that mold could easily develop.
- Fix any water leaks and clean any water damage that could trigger the development of molds.
- Keep all upholstered furniture and carpets.
- Regularly wash your bedding using hot water.
- Remove all stuffed toys from your kids’ bedrooms.
Use allergen-proof covers to cover your pillows and beddi