Tips for Nasal Irrigation from Your ENT

Did you know a gentle nasal irrigation often brings relief to a congested nose? You can do it safely at home using the following easy tips!

ENT-Approved Nasal Irrigation Process

You wash your hands during cold and flu season, to reduce your exposure to germs, think of nasal irrigation as washing your nose!

When done as directed by your ear, nose and throat professional (ENT), nasal irrigation will remove mucous (even dried), germs, dust and pollens from your nasal passages. It can also introduce germs, so it is important that you follow the procedure and solution preparation steps precisely. Nasal irrigation is also recommended after certain surgeries, after the nasal packing has been removed.  Your ENT will let you know when and how often you should irrigate after surgery.

Use the Right Solution

Effective nasal irrigation is performed with a solution that has the same salinity and pH as your other body tissues. You can purchase prepared saline solution and premixed packets to which you provide your own water. You can also make your own saline solution at home; it will just not have the same purity level as that prepared in a sterile environment with pure salt. If you make your solution from ingredients out of the pantry, just be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and use only clean containers. 

Saline Solution

  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 8 oz warm water

Use the Right Water

It is important to use sterile water. You can use distilled water or water purified at home with a filtration system. Do not use water from your tap unless you have boiled it first.  This is to absolutely eliminate the chance of introducing water-borne bacteria into your nasal passages from contaminated water.

Warm water makes for a more comfortable nasal irrigation procedure. It is OK to warm your water in the microwave for just a few seconds. Warm water also makes dissolving your salt solution easier.

Nasal Irrigation Procedure

There are many nasal irrigation devices sold at the drug store. The easiest to use is a modified squeeze bottle. If you select this method, mix your sterile solution and filtered warm water, then shake to dissolve. Lean over the sink and gently squeeze the water into one nostril until the water begins to come out of the other nostril.  Breathe through your mouth while you irrigate.  Use half of the bottle in one nostril and then repeat the process in the other nostril. If you have had surgery in the last few weeks, don’t blow your nose until the ENT tells you it is OK. If you are not recovering from surgery, it is OK to blow your nose afterwards.

If you don’t use a squeeze bottle, you can also use a Neti pot. Once again, mix your sterile solution and warm filtered water and use the same process. If you use a Neti pot, take particular care to thoroughly clean your pot afterwards to avoid contamination.