A Simple Way to Tame Seasonal Allergies Without Drugs
The term “nasal irrigation” sounds a little scary, but all it means is gently cleaning out your nose with a saline solution. A study conducted by the University of Michigan Health System found that this drug free process is often more effective than medication for simple nasal and sinus problems. Melissa Pynnonen, MD, co-director of the Michigan Sinus Center and assistant professor at the University of Michigan Department of Otolaryngology, says nasal irrigation may be all you need to combat seasonal allergies. She found that people who rinsed their noses daily got as much improvement as some patients with chronic sinusitis get with nasal surgery.
It used to be that nasal irrigation was something I only heard about in yoga classes. Yogi’s used neti pots, which look like little teapots, to pour a saline solution, head slightly tipped, in one nostril while allowing the liquid to run out that other nostril. Now you can buy squeeze bottles in your local drug store for the same purpose. (I’m not talking about sprays, which simply keep your nose moist.)
The solution is simple to make, though often neti pots or other nasal wash bottles come with specially prepared packets. Mix ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt with 8 ounces of warm tap water and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda.
I’ve tried three versions at these approximate price points:
1. Plastic Squeeze Bottle ($10)
This works okay but it takes some skill to get the same propulsion of water once the bottle is half emptied. And I found it was easy to misdirect or create an overly forceful flow of solution and end up with a lot of water deeper in my sinuses. (The result being that 30 minutes later, I might bend over to pick something up and water would pour out of my nose in a steady stream!)
2. Grossan Hydro Pulse ($80)
Though the Grossan Hydro Pulse may be reimbursable by your insurance provider if your doctor prescribes it, and it has a good track record, mine’s relegated to the back of the linen closet. Why? Though it’s supposed to help restore the function of the cilia in your nose with its pulsing action, it’s very noisey. (No sinus cleaning when your spouse is already asleep!) It also requires more time to fill, operate and clean than the squeeze bottle or neti pot. Practically speaking, that made it a dud for me.
3. Neti Pot ($10-20)
These come in plastic and ceramic versions. Aesthetically, they are by far the most pleasing and for me, they work better. You have to tilt your head appropriately to use a neti pot, which helps you properly direct the very gentle flow of the water, which is supposed to be cleaning allergens, dust and dirt out of your nose, not deep cleaning your sinuses. Still, it’s a good idea to do a few forward bends afterwards, to expel any water that may have traveled deeper.
The process of nasal irrigation takes only a few minutes, and like brushing your teeth, could easily become part of your daily hygiene. Considering the expense and side effects of many allergy medications, this simple, proven, natural method is certainly worth a try.