Nasal irrigation has proven to be very useful for patients who suffer from common cold and congestion, and different types of nasal allergies and sinus infections. It provides a quick and effective relief from the symptoms associated with such ailments. This practice has been in use for many centuries, especially in India. This simple technique is referred to as jala neti in Sanskrit, where jala stands for 'water' and neti stands for 'nasal cleaning'. The vessel that contains the water is referred to as a neti pot. Water is poured into one nostril, and flows out from the other with the aid of gravity, effectively cleaning the passageways and hydrating the mucus membranes.
Nowadays, nasal irrigation or nasal lavage is also done with the help of a large syringe, with a plunger at one end, which is used to force water into the nostrils. Pulsatile nasal irrigation, a form of irrigation that involves the use of motorized irrigation devices, is also commonly used. Nasal sprays are also a popular form of nasal irrigation, especially for children, though they are not as effective as neti pots.
Nasal Irrigation Side Effects
Although nasal lavage or irrigation is a rather safe method and can be practiced by one and all, here are a few side effects that can be associated with it, if the saline solution is not used properly.
- If you do not hold the neti pot correctly, the solution may leak into your ear, causing fluid buildup. You may also feel pressure buildup in the ears, and eventually this may lead to an earache and ear infection.
- The temperature of water can also cause discomfort in your nasal passages. If it is too hot or too cold, you may feel pain in your sinuses.
- Patients who have never used nasal douche before might experience slight discomfort in the beginning. Typically, the insides of your nose may feel dry and itchy or you could even feel a burning sensation. This should ideally go away with subsequent uses once your body gets used to the saline solution.
- In rare cases, this procedure may lead to a nosebleed. Though nosebleeds are not overly serious and usually heal on their own, if you experience recurring nosebleeds, it is advisable to discontinue the use of nasal or sinus irrigation and ask your health care provider for an alternate source of therapy.
As mentioned earlier, sinus irrigation is usually not harmful, side effects may occur only if it is not carried out in the right manner or done too frequently. To combat these risks, always maintain proper personal hygiene. Whatever method you use for irrigation, whether it is pulsatile nasal irrigation or a neti pot, keep the equipment clean. After every use, make it a point to wash the equipment used thoroughly with warm water and a mild soap.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to clean the device. If left unclean, mold and mildew may begin to develop on the surface, especially if the environment is humid. Do not use others' devices and do not let others use your device. Never use plain water for irrigating the mucus membranes. This can further irritate them. Salt must be added to water to make the solution. Always use distilled water. To avoid the solution from getting into your ears, all through the procedure, hold back the urge to swallow. Breathe through your mouth. Keep it open. Do not overdo the procedure. Do it just once a day.
It is actually a safe method and advantageous for your nasal health. The concept of flushing salty water down the nose can seem quite unpleasant to those who have never practiced it before. But once you get the technique right, you will realize it is a lot safer and cheaper method of relieving inflamed mucous membranes and nasal allergy symptoms when compared to using over-the-counter drugs. You also need to remember that it is not a panacea for all your nasal problems, it is just a supplementary therapy which will help you to heal faster, and lower your dependency on medications. In case of any doubt, always consult your doctor before you begin any kind of rinse or irrigation procedure.