Nasal irrigation is a practice which helps in getting rid of excess mucus and foreign matter from the nose, and the sinuses. This practice washes the nasal cavity. Some studies vouch for the benefits and zero side effects of nasal irrigation, while some say that frequent use of this method can increase sinus infections.
Nasal irrigation is done by snorting a handful of water from cupped hands. It is considered to be more effective to introduce the nasal irrigation solution into one nostril, so that it could either come out of the other, or flow to the back of the throat, from where it can be spit out.
To prepare this solution, all you need is water, salt, and baking soda. The property of salt to draw water and mucus out of the cells in the sinuses, makes it an important ingredient. Take a tablespoon of salt, and dissolve it in a pint of water to get the appropriate saline solution. Kosher salt or pickling salt can be used for the purpose. However, avoid adding too much salt, as it may worsen the condition.
Some people may find it comfortable to use warm water, however, cold water helps reduce the swelling of the mucous membranes, as well as relieve nasal congestion. It is preferable to use distilled or water sterilized by boiling.
A pinch of baking soda should be added to the above saline solution. Baking soda helps in dissolving the mucus, thus adding to the effectiveness of the salt. It also serves as a buffering agent for the solution. Stir well to mix the solution, but do not shake it. Shaking the solution produces bubbles, which may cause irritation in the nasal passages, during the irrigation procedure.
Once the solution is ready, use a neti pot (small pot used for irrigating the nasal passages), or simply sniff the solution from cupped hands. Alternatively, you can also use a nasal spray to introduce the solution into one nostril, and blow your nose tilting your head, so as to make the solution exit from the other nostril. Repeat this method using the other nostril. Always prepare a fresh solution every time you want to perform nasal irrigation.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.