I heard about something called a neti pot a few years ago, but had reservations. I liked the idea of a non-medical solution to a stuffy nose, but I didn’t like the idea of putting water in my nose. I have never liked that sensation. I always avoided nasal sprays, and I even chose the flu shot over the flu mist vaccine every year. I kept hearing how amazing the neti pots were, though, and even saw a recommendation on Facebook from a relative whose opinions I value. I finally broke down and bought my own neti pot. It looks like a small, oddly shaped watering can, and fits in my hand. They usually hold only about a cup of water, which is more than enough for the job. Mine sat, unused, for several months while I tried to convince myself to actually try it.
One thing I read about neti pots was the importance of making sure the water is purified before using it. There is a chance of a rare infection caused by an amoeba that can be found in some water. The amoeba travels through the nose to the brain, and can cause death. This seems to be something that can happen to people who get water up their nose when bathing, showering, or swimming. It’s rare, but very dangerous. Apparently, the way to avoid the possibility of this when using a neti pot is simply to use distilled water, or boil whatever water you were planning to use. Some dispute the necessity of boiling tap water, but I feel there are no disadvantages to doing so. I’d much rather boil the water than take a chance by not boiling it! The hot water dissolves the salt solution more quickly, more easily, and more thoroughly than cooler water. It’s more comfortable to use warm water anyway, so after boiling, you dissolve the packet, and then you just wait for it to cool down enough. I check the temperature by putting a few drops on my wrist, just like people do for a baby’s bottle.
So, I had the neti pot (which came with quite a few saline packets), and information about using it safely. I just had to summon up the courage to use it! Like I said, I had never liked any liquids in my nose. I had tried a nasal spray once, and really hated it. But, I finally broke down and tried using my neti pot. It was a little awkward at first, and took a bit of trying, but I finally did it! It significantly cut down on the symptoms I had. The sensation of the water pouring through wasn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined. It’s actually not bad – and that’s coming from someone who despises water in the nose!
So now, any time I start to feel stuffiness from a cold or allergies, I make sure to use my neti pot right away once the symptoms start. I really only need it a few times a year, which surprised me. I felt like I always had symptoms before – whether an itchy nose, stuffed nose, or runny nose. It was especially bad during my pregnancies, and that was when I refused to use medication for those problems, which made it even worse. I wish I had heard about the neti pot years ago! I highly recommend it, especially for anyone who can’t or would rather not use medications. Just make sure to follow the directions, of course.