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The Den Mother’s Health Tip of the Day

Friday, January 29, 2010, 22:24 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Click to view largerOne of the revelations that came out of my health odyssey of the last year is that I have chronic nasal congestion and post-nasal drip, evidently due to some low-level common allergy. I’ll spare you the details and just say that I was getting tired of the twice-a-day low dose antihistamine and two different nasal sprays, one of which dries out my nasal passages and throat so badly that I had a constant sore throat.

When I complained about it during my last visit to the pulmonologist, he suggested nasal/sinus irrigation. This is a process by which you basically rinse out the nasal passages and sinues, which sounded like less fun than the constant sore throat. But the doc urged me to give it a try, acknowledging that it might take some getting used to for someone who doesn’t like swimming underwater because she hates getting water up her nose.

I bought an over-the-counter nasal irrigation product, fully intending to give it a try. That was three weeks ago, and it was still sitting on the shelf in my bathroom when I developed a cold earlier in the week. Figuring it was a good time to see if this stuff worked, I bit the bullet and tried it.

Yes, it felt strange. Yes, it took some getting used to. And yes, it has helped quite a bit. I haven’t used my nasal sprays all week.

The product I use is NeilMed Sinus Rinse because that’s the one my pulmonologist recommended and it’s available at CVS. A quick online search turned up other products such as SinuPulse, Grossan Hydro Pulse, Dr. Hana’s Nasopure, and Nasaline, none of which I have tried. The NeilMed Sinus Rinse instructions recommend using boiled or distilled water; I use the latter, available by the gallon at any drug store, rather than having to boil and cool regular tap water every time I want to rinse. I measure the water in the squeeze bottle provided in the kit and add the pre-measured salt/baking soda mixture. WebMD has a page about nasal irrigation using a neti pot, an alternative to the squeeze bottle and a variation of which is available with the NeilMed system. For those who want to try nasal/sinus irrigation without buying a commercially available product, About.com tells how to make a nasal irrigant mixture from scratch using regular baking soda and non-iodized salt.

I chose the squeeze bottle option instead of the neti pot because I thought it would be easier to get used to if I had better control over the flow of the solution, and also because the idea of leaning forward over a sink while I rinse is more palatable than tipping my head sideways and pouring. (The image at the right shows the correct position for irrigating using the squeeze bottle.)

The acid test would be if I were to develop a sinus infection and could see what effect, if any, irrigation would have on my recovery. Then again, I suppose it’s possible that regular prophylactic rinsing (as opposed to post-operative irrigation or as treatment for a cold) might help prevent infections. That would be even better.

I have been using the rinse three times a day and will probably reduce that to twice a day once I’m sure my cold is cleared up. For those who suffer from chronic nasal congestion, I recommend this procedure, whether with a commercially available product or a home remedy, as a safe and affordable alternative to medications that may otherwise be necessary.

(Disclaimer: The Den Mother is not a doctor and this blog post should not be taken as medical advice. In other words, consult your own doctor, use your good common sense, and don’t sue me if you do something stupid.)

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Categories: health/safety
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