Banner Health Services  

Helping your sinuses


Misty Vo is a pharmacist at Banner Desert Medical Center and Cardon Children's Medical Center.

Question: A friend suggested I get a neti pot for my sinus problems. I found it at the store but it looks strange. Is it effective?

Answer:  A neti pot is a specially shaped container, most often purchased with saline packets, that is recommended to cleanse nasal passages to improve sinus-related ailments. The shape of the container makes it easy for users to deliver a saline solution into nasal passages, creating a “nasal irrigation” for sinus sufferers.

The neti pot has its roots in Ayurvedic medicine where it is called jala neti, Sanskrit for nasal cleansing. In India and other countries, it is as common and routine as brushing one’s teeth. However, because it is a new technique over here, many users are a bit intimidated their first time.

Basically, the neti pot allows a user to pour 8 to 16 ounces of warm saline into one nostril while letting the solution pour out the other nostril. Typically, in a kit, the packets contain 700mg of sodium bicarbonate and 2300mg of sodium chloride; however, a level teaspoonful of plain salt can suffice if your pot does not come with saline packets. Simply empty the packets into the neti pot and add warm water, give a little stir and you are ready to go.

The most important element to remember is to continue to breathe regularly, through an open mouth. It is a natural reaction to hold your breath when feeling water in your nose but if you hold your breath, you will not allow the solution to make its way through the nasal passage and out the other side. When you are finished, blow gently into a tissue and squeeze your nose as if you had a cold. This should clear most of the water and some remaining mucus along with some air pollutants.

The authors of a randomized trial published in the Journal of Family Practice in 2002 concluded “Daily hypertonic saline nasal irrigation improves sinus-related quality of life, decreases symptoms, and decreases medication use in patients with frequent sinusitis.” If you have regular sinus problems or are a frequent flu sufferer, try the neti pot to see if it might help.

Reviewed November 2010

Page Last Modified: 09/11/2012
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