Neti Pot, an Alternative for Seniors With Sinus Congestion

Sep 26th, 2009 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness

Twenty-five years ago, when my mother was dying of cancer, she developed a cold and clogged sinus.  She went to a health food store because she chose not to use traditional medical treatment at that point in her life.  A clerk at the health food store told her to keep her nose and sinuses clear by slowly pouring a mild saline solution into one nostril (with her head tipped to the side) and let the solution drain through her nasal passages and sinus cavities and out the other nostril.  I watched her do this two or three times a day, using a spoon to pour the saline solution.  Her sinuses stayed clear and she was shortly over the cold.   Since then, I’ve discovered the neti pot.

Use of sinus irrigation is common in South Asia, particularly India.  It is an ancient Ayurvedic technique known as jala neti which means nasal cleansing with water.  Nasal passages have a layer of mucus that protect the canals.  If the mucus becomes too thick/dry or too thin/runny, bacteria and viruses may penetrate the nasal lining and cause swelling and excess discharge of mucus we know as a “cold.”  Allergic reactions may create the same phenomenon.

Antihistamines and decongestants are pharmaceutical medications that chemically alter the nasal and sinus lining resulting, over several days, in minimizing the swelling and excess discharge and bringing the lining back to its normal condition.  The neti pot works a little more simply.  It just keeps the lining clear and expels the excess mucus.  Your body and its natural immune system take over and, if bacteria are not present, your cold or allergic symptoms disappear.   Your physician needs to be consulted regarding whether or not bacteria are present.  She will tell you whether or not you need medication for your particular condition.

The small plastic neti pot with a long tapered nose holds about ¾ cup of water and saline solution that comes with the pot.  The little device is designed to infuse saline solution into one nostril, flow through both nasal passages and sinus cavities located just under the eyes.  The fluid then drains out the other nostril, clearing the canals of mucus and other particles that may have lodged there, such as pollen, mold, smoke, dust soot or other contaminates that may irritate the delicate lining.

There are several versions of the neti pot online.  Just put “neti pot” in your browser’s search window and almost a million sites pop up.  The little pot isn’t expensive at all and most online sites provide saline and instructions for those purchasing the item.  As always, SCJ strongly recommends you check with your physician before you use nasal flushing.   With her approval, you might give this age-old treatment a try to see if it works for you.



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