Using a neti pot may get you breathing when nothing else can, but there’s no way around it – it feels weird and it’s messy.
I tried a neti pot for the first time when I developed allergies after living in New York for several years. My sister recommended nasal irrigation – she suffers from chronic sinus infections and had been using a neti pot for years. She swore by it.
I have to admit, I was wary.
I’d stood in the bathroom doorway and watched my sister use her neti pot a few times. “Uggggghhh!” she’d exhale, blowing her nose afterwards, finally able to breathe. I could see it gave her relief, but I just couldn’t imagine pouring water up my nose. I’d been rolled in enough ocean waves to know that salt water up the nose is many things and soothing is not one of them.
But when my city allergies got really bad – and I grew weary of over-the-counter meds that made me alternately sluggish and wired at work – I gave in. I bought my first neti pot.
I took it home, read the instructions at least 10 times, boiled my already distilled water*, added the saline solution, let the water cool, and then looked at myself in the mirror. Was I really going to try this?
Yes, I was. I did. It felt (as a friend recently described it) like there was a jacuzzi in my nostril. I was so congested, the water wouldn’t move. I felt like I was suffocating. I panicked and let it all drain out, splashing messily all over my sink and the front of my shirt.
I took a few deep breaths (through my mouth). I tried again. My nasal passages opened up a bit. The next day I gave it another shot. It was a little less messy, a little more effective. The day after that, I could breathe! For the first time in months, I could take deep breaths in and out through my nose. Ahhhh….
Two years later, I was enjoying the first heady, happy days after our wedding. The only cloud in my rainbow-filled newlywed sky was a terrible cold. So I broke out my neti pot, by now a trusted source of relief.
My husband didn’t realize I was in the bathroom when he stumbled in mid-neti. The look on his face as I glanced up, startled, and caught his eye in the mirror, with multi-colored mucus draining out of my left nostril … well, it was priceless. I’m not sure which of us was more horrified. Now, of course, we kid each other about it. “Sexy neti time!” my husband jokes.
The bottom line is: if you suffer from chronic nasal infections or if you just can’t seem to beat that tough winter cold or if you’d like to explore an ancient Ayurvedic remedy, nasal irrigation may be worth a try.
Just maybe not on your honeymoon.
*IMPORTANT: use distilled water or boil your tap water before using a neti pot. Recently, there have been two reported deaths from fatal brain infection caused by the use of a neti pot with unsterilized water.