Can a Neti Pot Help with Seasonal Allergies, Sinusitis?

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Each year, seasonal allergies account for over 8.5 million outpatient office visits in the United States. About 1 in five American suffer from at least one type of allergy, which includes indoor/outdoor allergens such as pollen, grass, or pet dander. In addition, 14% of Americans suffer from diagnosed chronic sinusitis. As more people are trying to find new techniques to tame the symptoms, an ancient therapy is coming back into style – the Neti pot.

Some people have described the Neti pot as a cross between a small teapot and Aladdin’s magic lamp. The pot, which can be made from a variety of materials including ceramic, glass, metal (stainless steel), or plastic, uses gravity to irrigate the nasal cavity, using a salt and water solution. It originates from India and use used in Ayurvedic and Yoga medical practices. Neti is one of the six purification techniques performed prior to practicing yoga as a way of preparing the body for effective breathing.

How Does it Work?
The Neti pot works by thinning the mucus in the nasal cavity, which makes it flow more easily out of the body. The saline solution can also help coordinate the actions of the cilia, small hair-like structures inside the nasal and sinus cavities, which can more effectively remove bacteria, allergens, and other irritants that cause problems.

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To use a Neti pot, mix about 16 ounces of lukewarm water with one heaping teaspoon of salt. Tip the head over a sink at about a 45-degree angle. Place the spout of the pot into the top nostril, creating a seal between the spout and the nostril, and gently pour the saline solution. The fluid will flow through the nasal cavity and into the other nostril. Refill the Neti pot and repeat the process on the other side. The entire process, once mastered, takes about 3-5 minutes to perform.

Does it Really Work?
Ear, nose and throat physicians do recommend nasal irrigation for patients who have undergone sinus surgery to clear away crusting in the nasal passages. Research has found that irrigation can be an effective, and inexpensive, way to relieve sinus symptoms such as headaches, facial pain and clogged nasal passages.

Most sinus sufferers find relief from using a Neti pot when performed daily during severe symptoms. Once symptoms have subsided, three times a week is sufficient.

Is it Safe?
The use of a Neti pot is regarded as safe. About 10% of regular users may experience mild side effects such as nasal irritation and stinging. Nosebleeds can occur, but they are rare. Remember that the Neti pot can harbor bacteria, so it is important to properly care for the device to prevent infection. Wash the pot thoroughly by hand or use the dishwasher, if allowed.

How Much Does it Cost?
Neti pots are available over the counter at many drug stores and online and typically cost between $10 and $20.

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