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Prevent Colds with Nasal Rinses

Updated on November 25, 2012

I first encountered netty pots in an antique shop many years ago. When told their function, which was to pour water in one nostril and out the other, my immediate reaction was "ew." However, a few years ago, a doctor recommended I get a nasal rinse. I don't recall what condition it was supposed to soothe, but whatever it was bothered me enough to actually pick up a kit by Neilmed at a drugstore and give it a try. I've been a fan ever since.

Whenever I get the slightest hint a cold is coming on, whether it's a sneeze or a tingly nose, I engage in nasal rinses morning and night. I have never gotten a full-blown cold after doing. When I've delayed the rinses until I've got an outright runny nose, it still stops the cold in its tracks and prevents a sinus infection from developing.

While it isn't the most pleasant procedure, it's not as uncomfortable as one might imagine. At first I was expecting the sting and irritation experienced in the past when accidentally snorting or inhaling things. However, the nasal rinse includes a prepackaged saline solution designed to soothe sinus membranes not irritate them. I also discovered that warming the solution to the right temperature goes a long way toward preventing any irritation during the process. Just warmer than lukewarm works best for me. Too cold is unpleasant and too warm, well, the goal isn't to scald one's mucus membranes.

Go gently into that good rinse. Don't engage in nasal rinse when you're in a hurry. The nipple-like top of a bottle is pressed firmly against one nostril while a gentle squeeze on the bottle pushes the liquid up, through the sinus cavities, and out the other nostril. This isn't something you can force. It takes time for the fluid to make its circuit and exit the other nostril. Excess pressure in a desire to shorten the process only results in the solution going down the back of one's throat. This doesn't hurt but isn't the effect one's going for.

There's no getting around the messiness of nasal rinses. I keep a box of tissues near the sink and wipe between rinses. The bottle I use holds enough to treat each nostril twice. Blowing ones nose isn't recommended either during or directly after the rinsing process because the solution can be blown into the ear canal. Wipe, don't blow.

I'm curious to hear others experiences with nasal rinses. I certainly wish I'd learned about them much earlier in my life. They're a great way to avoid the discomfort and medication that go along with letting a cold run its course.

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