All you need to know about nasal irrigation and how to do it
Nasal irrigation(also known as nasal washing, sinus rinsing, sinus lavage, and sinus irrigation) is a practice where the nasal cavity is flushed out and cleaned with a warm solution of salt water and sodium bicarbonate. It is usually peformed using a device called a neti pot but there are several other nasal irrigator systems on the market now. It has been noted that ancient yoga practitioners performed a nasal irrigation technique known as jala neti and now many people from around the world do it for its cleansing benefits. In this article we will go into detail about the benefits of nasal irrigation, the possible side-effects, and how and when to do it.
When and How Often
Airborne allergens (dust and pollen), dirt, pollutants, and bacteria are collected in our nasal cavities as we breathe. The body tries to protect itself from these particles by creating mucus which traps a lot of these particles as they travel through the nasal cavitiy. Too much build-up of the particles in the nasal cavity causes problems suchs as excess mucus, inflamation, and even infection. Nasal irrigation performed daily helps remove these contaminants to allow the nasal cavity and sinuses to work effeciently and effectively.
Here is a list of benefits from nasal irrigation:
Freshens breath – Alleviates symtoms of post-nasal drip which is known to cause halitosis(bad breath).
Alleviates nasal congestion – Nasal irrigation thins the mucus in a congested nose making it easier to expel and also remove contaminants that may have caused the congestion in the first place. Also by relieving nasal blockage it allows one to breathe easier.
Flushes out allergens, pollutants, and bacteria – These are not good for the body and helps prevent against sickness and infection. Also helps allergies.
Helps the cilia – The tiny cilia or hairs in the nasal passage are able to transport mucus more efficiently.
Improves sense of smell/taste – Cleaning out the nasal cavity allows the sensory cells to perform effectively.
Multiple studies have been carried out about nasal irrigation. Most of them comment on the benefits the test subjects recieve from nasal irrigation and few report negative side-effects from it. However there are reports of some negative effects.
Some people report nose-bleeds that are caused by nasal irrigation. In a study in 2009 it was reported that frequent nasal irrigation led to higher rates of sinus infections, which was likely caused by a lack of the protective mucus layer that was being flushed out constantly through nasal irrigation.
Although there have been reports of side-effects, a lot of these side effects and negative experiences from nasal irrigation arise from improper usage of nasal irrigation, such as not using a proper solution or irrigating the nasal cavity too often. For example if one was to use a solution that contained too much salt it would dry out the nasal passages and may cause nose-bleeds or irritation.
BreathMD’s Advice: Try nasal irrigation out. Only do it once per day and use the proper solution. If you do not like the effects it has on you, then stop it. If you are suffering from acute sinusitis or if you have frequent nosebleeds, it would be wise to consult a doctor about nasal irrigation before trying it out.
Solutions used for nasal irrigation
The membranes in the nose and sinuses are very sensitive. The cells in these membranes have a specific level of salt concentration, pH level(measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a fluid), and temperature. In creating a solution to use in nasal irrigation it is important to use an isotonic solution(has the same salt concentration) that has the same pH level and is as close to the body temperature of 98 degrees F / 37 degrees C as possible.
Using a solution that does not match these levels causes irritation in the membranes and sends “pain” messages to the brain. A lot of people think nasal irrigation would be uncomfortable, but this is mainly due to the fact that people associate snorting water with pain. This association comes from when people have accidentily gotten tap or chlorinated water in their nassal passages that does not match the levels of the cell membrane we talked about and irriation and pain ensues. When you snort a solution that is at the correct levels you will find that it is not uncomfortable and may actually be pleasant.
Salt: Make sure the salt is as pure as possible, non-iodized, and that it contains no additives such as anticaking agents. Kosher, pickling, and canning salt are pure and acceptable to use. Sea-salt, even if it contains no additives, is often discouraged due to the fact that it may contain algae, but that is debatable. Table salt contain additives so do not use it.
Water: Pure water is ideal. Tap water will work fine unless you know that your tap water is not good. If so, use bottled water or boil the tap water for 3 minutes. The water you use should be warm(ideally 98 degrees F) to maximise the effectiveness and to minimize irritation.
Baking Soda: This is an optional buffering agent to decrease the pH level of the solution. Make sure it is pure sodium bicarbonate. Baking Powder is not acceptable.
The Proper Proportions
The Normal saline (NS) solution that is referred to as physiological saline or isotonic saline is 0.90% w/v(mass/volume) of sodium chloride(salt). This translates to 9 grams of salt to 1 liter of water or 2.13 grams to 1 cup. Salt granules come in different sizes so it is important to know how much of the salt you use is 9 grams. For example, a teaspoon of extra fine salt will weigh more than a teaspoon of coarse salt.
Salt absorbs moisture so the higher concentration of salt you use the more it will relieve swelling, and the lower concentration of salt the more water that the tissues will absorb. Generally if you are suffering from a congested nose you may try a hypertonic solution(higher salt concentration) in order to relieve swelling.
If you add baking soda to your solution the general accepted amount is equal to the amount of salt you added. So if you add 1 teaspoon of salt, then add 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
There are many different ways to irrigate your nasal passages, some work better than others. Try various methods and see which one you like most.
NOTE: Remember, whatever method you use, to regularly clean the tools you use and rinse them out before and after use. For example rinse your neti pot out before using it, or wash your hands before snorting the solution from your hands.
Snort solution from cupped hands – This is the cheapest and simplest way to nasal irrigate. Basically you pour the nasal solution into one of your cupped hands and snort it through one nostril while plugging the other. After you snort the solution and have it in your nasal cavity I like to do what I call a nasal gargle with the solution. Basically you just breath through that nostril slowly and it agitates the water just like when you gargle water in the back of the throat. After doing that expell the solution from your nose by blowing your nose while still having the other nostril plugged. Switch and do the same thing through the other nostril and do this as many times as needed.
Neti Pot – Nasal irrigating with a neti pot is the most common way to nasal irrigate. Below are the steps to take on how to irrigate your nasal passages with a neti pot.
Fill the neti pot with the warm solution.
Insert the spout into one of your nostrils.
Bend over a sink with your head face down and tilted to the side so the neti pot is up in the air. The neti pot uses gravity to create positive pressure of the solution in your nose.
If you are bent over properly and if you are not too congested the water should soon fill the nasal passage and begin to come out through your bottom nostril. While doing this have your mouth open and breathe through it. Let the water run through until you estimate that half of the water has been used.
Plug the nostril that the spout was in and blow the water out from the other nostril.
Repeat with other nostril.
Bulb Syringe – Nasal Irrigating with a bulb syringe is carried out essentially in the same manner explained using a neti pot, except instead of gravity, pressure applied to the bulb by the hand creates the positive solution pressure. Although you may control the pressure easier with the bulb syringe while irrigating, it is often more difficult to clean and care must be taken to properly clean the bulb syringe regularly to prevent bacteria and mold from growing inside it.
Nasal Sprays – Nasal sprays are bottles with a nozzle that you place in each nostril. You squeeze the bottle and it creates a mist that moistens the nasal passages. While it doesn’t do as thorough of a job as other nasal irrigating methods it is more portable and easier to use for small children and babies.
Nasal Irrigation Machines – There are several machines on the market now that are motorized and pump the solution through a tube. Many have adjustable pressure and some feature a pulsatile or pulsating water pumping action of a low rate that is designed to match the normal wave rate of nasal cilia that are healthy. There are many other machines such as the Sanvic Pulsatle Nasal/Sinus Irrigator, Grossan Hydro Pulse Sinus System, SinuPulse, Nasaline, and others. There are tips that you may attach to a WaterPik that make it so you can irrigate with that. When buying a system make sure to read the reviews and do some research so that you have a quality irrigator that meets your specific needs.
When and How Often
How Often – While nasal irrigation is important and beneficial for overall nasal health, doing it too much can have negative effects. When you nasal irrigate you flush out the protective mucus layer that lines your nasal passages. It is recomended that one irrigates only once or twice daily. Doing it more than that can cause dryness and irritation in the nasal passages.
When – Some people like doing it before bed, in the morning, or both. Try different times and see what you like most and what gives you the best results.
Also, think about all the obnoxious things you may smell on a daily basis. Did you know that smell is 95% of taste? Yes, what you smell is what you actually taste and therefore absorb into your bloodstream. This is why smell can and does affect you. This happens all the time. People smell food cooking and get hungry. They will smell popcorn popping at the movie theatre and naturally want some.
If you smell “poop” or “dung”, you have therefore tasted it. This is why many people will say a thing (food or beverage) tastes “just like crap.” Now how would these people know if a thing tastes like this unless they have actually eaten a piece of it? Ahhhh, something to actually think about (though appalling in nature)!
I know for myself personally, I despise and deplore the smell of cigarette smoke. Marijuana smoke, cologne and perfume, meat (dead slaughtered animal flesh), and cheese, especially STINKING STANKING cheese, are also high on my list of things I dislike the smell of. What we smell via the nostrils actually gets stuck in the nasal passages and lingers there for some time (days) which makes nasal flushing and cleansing imperative.
Many may say or ask “how do you possibly, sanely and safely cleanse the nostrils and nasal passages?” The answer is quite easy! You use a Neti pot. A Neti pot facilitates the Neti wash (cleanse and flush).
The Neti wash is a type of water cleansing which allows for the sinuous of the nasal (and ear and eye) cavities to release accumulated waste particles and substances that have attached to the mucus lining.
Nasal flushing and cleansing is customary hygiene practice in many countries and regions of the East such as India, Tibet, and the Middle East.
Nasal cleansing was a prescribed daily hygienic regimen of the Prophet Muhammad of Arabia. Muhammad instructed the Muslims to pour water in their nostrils as part of the daily morning ablution process. Great and sound advice from the prophet of Arabia and founder of Islam!
It is very important to have and experience good breathing. Through the nostrils we breathe in the breath of life which contains the vital “chi”, “prana” or energy necessary for optimal health.
Nasal flushing and cleansing along with breathing techniques and exercises (such as those imported via yoga) are the best things for improving breathing and flow of “chi” (energy) into the body.
You really don’t know the value of air, good quality air, and breathing until your breathing channels are wide open and unobstructed. Take it from me, a man who suffered from bronchial-asthma for many years. After being able to really breath again (due to herbs) after fifteen (15) years of breathing turmoil, thanks to bronchitis and asthma (and not to mention my hardened mucus obstruction in my nose from eating the traditional junk food-stuffs coming up as a youth – the dairy products, pastries and other refined grains, meat products, etc.), I truly began to breathe after discovering and using the Neti pot.
I bought my first Neti pot in Sedona, Arizona in 2000. This was the first time I visited Sedona. I discovered many health benefits and treasures there. The biggest treasure I discovered and brought back to California with me was the Neti pot.
I have a beautiful porcelain Neti pot that I use weekly to flush my nose (nostrils). I also use an herbal nostril flushing (Neti wash) solution with my Neti pot that is made with great sinus-helping herbs such as Goldenseal, Barberry, Coptis Root, Phellodendron Bark and Grapeseed Extract. This formula greatly soothes the sinuous lining and mucous membranes of the nasal passage and many parts of the respiratory tract.
Many professional brands of Neti Wash solutions will also contain Zinc acetate which is used for nasal health. Snoring has been nutritionally attributed to zinc and sulfur deficiency and many people with snoring problems have been helped with MSM Sulfur therapy (taking 2,000-6,000 mg daily).
In addition to the liquid herbal Neti wash solution, I also use saline in the Neti pot for each wash or cleansing. However, my saline is actually salt, sea salt. Many professional brands of Neti Pot Salt will contain noniodized salt but iodized sea salt or regular sea salt will suffice the nasal cleanse and washing process. I would never use sodium chloride or white table salt though. Never! That crap is 100% toxic and insalubrious!
Adding MSM Sulfur to the sea salt in addition to the herbal nasal cleansing solution works nasal wonders.
After I finish cleansing my nose, I inhale or sniff essential oils of Eucalyptus and Pine which greatly help to open the nasal passages. Each breath I take after this nasal cleansing process is so fresh and invigorating. But I must say that it is a real pain to perform such a cleansing and then to go out into the decadent American society, especially here in Glendale. There are hundreds of dragons (cigarette smokers) walking down the street and puffing on symbolic white phallic symbols in their mouths – cigarettes.
Cigarette smoke greatly impairs and lessens the human aura (force field), damaging the auric-etheric biomagnetic sheath (aura of the etheric body). Cigarette smoke also lingers in the nasal passages for days greatly making nasal washing, cleansing and flushing imperative. For me, only nasal washing, chakra balancing and diode therapy can help my body to recover quickly from the immediate negative effects of cigarette smoke.
Breathing is a very alkaline or alkalizing thing. It will greatly help to dissolve and expel hardened mucus (boogers). The Neti Pot cleansing and flushing process is also alkaline, mainly due in part to the herbs and sea salt.
I also ozonate the water I use for my Neti wash. Oxygen and alkalinity are the secrets to my great health. You cannot get sick with these two things in abundance in your body.
Neti wash water can also be enhanced not only with ozone or oxygen, but with crystal water of Blue Fluorite and Magnetite. These two stones are great for nose problems such as nosebleed.
Also, it is a fact that most people are only breathing through one nostril due to blockage. This blockage is magnetic in nature. You can test yourself by pressing down on one nostril and inhaling and exhaling through the other. Chances are there’s a blockage and a great one at that.
This problem can be rectified with the use of magnets, medical-grade or therapeutic magnets which are usually very small gold-plated, powerful gauss (500-9,000) magnets that are applied to both sides of the nose with small adhesive bandages that are worn for 6-12 hours daily until the blockage disappears.
If you can’t fathom the idea of water going in through one nostril and gently coming out of the other nostril which is how the Neti Pot and Neti wash process works, you may just want to perform facial tinting (steaming) – placing your head over a pot of hot, boiling water that contains a few drops of Eucalyptus oil and just breathe in the sinus-opening vapors.
In closing, concurring with the sentiments of Saat-Rai Amnwt of You-Nique in Los Angeles, California (You-Nique), in re the Neti wash, the Neti wash will truly change your perspective on what being clear really feels like and once you have experienced this cleansing you will ask yourself why no one ever told you about it before.
I would not feel the way I do today if it was not for me successfully triumphing over bronchial-asthma (with the use of herbs and radically changing my diet) and discovering and using the Neti Pot that greatly cleanses and opens up the nasal passage and sinuses. Now, I can truly follow gospel singer Fred Hammond’s advice of breathing in the breath of life – literally!
edited byJack Herrick and 98 others
While it can be scary for blood to be coming out of the nose, most nosebleeds are harmless. They’re often caused by a knock or blow to the nose, picking the nose, sneezing or blowing or from heat or a proclivity to having bloody noses (the latter being fairly normal for some young children).
Above all, when you get a nosebleed, staying calm is very important. If you follow the steps below, you should be able to successfully stop a nosebleed.
1.1 During the nosebleed
1.2 After the nosebleed
1.3 Knowing when to see a doctor
During the nosebleed
1. Sit down and lean forward
Sit down and lean forward. This is to allow the blood to drain out rather than running into your throat. It can help to use a bowl to catch the flow of blood rather than ruining clothing or towels. Have tissues, handkerchiefs or face cloths at hand to help dab at blood on the face or hands.
Don’t lie down or lean too far forward; keeping your head above your heart will minimize bleeding. If you place your head back too far (as is wont to happen when lying down), the blood can flow down the throat and bring about vomiting.
2. Drink some water to help clean your throat.
Drink some water to help clean your throat. Blood in the throat can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Water can also be important if the cause of the blood nose is dehydration or dry heat.
3. Use one or both of the following techniques to stop the bleeding:
Pinch the soft part of your nose just below the bridge (the bony/hard cartilage part).
Pinch the soft part of your nose just below the bridge (the bony/hard cartilage part). Use the thumb and index finger to squeeze (not too hard) it for at least 5 minutes. If your nose continues to bleed, squeeze again for at least 10 minutes. As you’re doing this, breathe through your mouth; while pinching your nose pretty much means you have little choice but to breathe through your mouth, this has a positive, calming effect. If pinching your nose the second time doesn’t stop the bleeding, get emergency medical attention (see below).
Put a cold ice pack on the back of the neck or the forehead. Remain upright but leaning slightly forward.
After the nosebleed
1. Remain calm and resting for a good amount of time
Remain calm and resting for a good amount of time. You’ll probably have to remain seated and resting for about 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the severity of the nosebleed, most particularly to prevent the nosebleed from restarting.
2. Avoid sniffing, blowing or cleaning the nostrils for about four hours after the nosebleed.
Avoid sniffing, blowing or cleaning the nostrils for about four hours after the nosebleed. Any of these actions could cause the nosebleed to recommence. Continue drinking water regularly to keep well hydrated.
3. Do not clean out the inside of your nose after the bleeding has stopped.
Do not clean out the inside of your nose after the bleeding has stopped.
Do not clean out the inside of your nose after the bleeding has stopped. Doing this can dislodge clots and start the bleeding again. However, it is fine to gently clean around the outside of the nose to remove blood using warm water and a very soft cloth.
4. Clean up everything else.
Clean up everything else. See How to remove blood stains if clothing or upholstery has been stained by blood.
5. Turn on a cool vaporizer to moisten mucous membranes, which will help prevent the nosebleed from recurring
Turn on a cool vaporizer to moisten mucous membranes, which will help prevent the nosebleed from recurring. If you don’t have a vaporizer, breathe in through your mouth and slowly out through your nose so the moisture in your breath will moisten it.
6. If you’re prone to nosebleeds, avoid doing anything to cause your nose to bleed
If you’re prone to nosebleeds, avoid doing anything to cause your nose to bleed. Don’t blow your nose, pick your nose, bump it, or bend over or rub your nose vigorously. And don’t get into physical fisticuffs!
Knowing when to see a doctor
Most nosebleeds self-resolve within 20 to 30 minutes. If your nosebleed or the nosebleed of someone you’re tending to does not cease after 30 minutes, see a doctor. Other reasons for seeing the doctor include:
The nose is also broken. Don’t sit around tending to a nosebleed when the nose itself is broken. Get to a doctor or emergency center immediately.
If the blood is thin and watery, get straight to emergency. This is especially important if the nosebleed occurs as a result of a blow to the head.
There is nausea, dizziness, vomiting or unconsciousness involved.
There are other signs of illness present or pain.
2. In the case of a child, a noted frequency of nosebleeds should be checked out by a doctor
In the case of a child, a noted frequency of nosebleeds should be checked out by a doctor. It may be nothing more than a common susceptibility to nosebleeds that the child will grow out or it may be due to too much nose-picking (in which case, tell the child to stop it). However, it’s better to be safe and get your doctor’s advice.
If you get a lot of nose bleeds, talk to your doctor.
To prevent problems in the future, raise the humidity level in your living quarters by using a humidifier. Most nosebleeds occur when nasal blood vessels become dry and cracked.
Use diluted eucalyptus oil (one drop oil to one quart water) as a preventative measure to moisten the nasal membranes. Apply with a Q-Tip one to three times per day.
Avoid eating dry, deep fried, baked or crispy foods.
Avoid getting the person with the nosebleed upset or crying because it may worsen the nosebleed.
The “Pinching Method” is the only generally accepted medical practice for stopping nosebleeds.
It is not recommended that you tilt your head back while suffering a nose bleed (contrary to popular belief). This allows blood to flow into the esophagus and poses a choking hazard, as well as causing blood to collect in the stomach. Too much swallowed blood will cause emesis (vomiting). Tilt forward instead.
Tilting your head back can also allow the blood to collect and clot in your sinuses. It will eventually pass out the nostril as a red-black jelly blob that can be quite disturbing.
During a severe nosebleed, don’t be surprised if blood starts dripping from the corner of your eye next to your nose. The lacrimal duct there is connected to the nasal sinuses and blood can flow out of it during a bad nosebleed. However, if you have a nosebleed that severe, you should probably be seen in an emergency room.
Blood loss can be dangerous. If you have a lost a great deal of blood, call an ambulance or get someone to take you to the emergency room. This is rare in the case of nosebleeds.
If using an ice pack, make sure to wrap it in a rag or cloth to avoid ice burns.
In many cases during dry seasons of climates, nosebleeds can be caused by vessels close to the surface of the skin chapping and then rupturing. A light daily application of vaseline, can help alleviate this issue.