Neti Pots, or How to Defuse the Time Bomb that is Your Head

May 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

I once described the act of using a neti pot to a friend with a killer headcold as “like taking a really satisfying nose-poop.” As in, yeah, it’s gross, and no one wants to talk about it, but you will feel SO MUCH BETTER when you’re done. Basically, you use this little teapot thing full of warmish salt water to rinse your head out of all the goop. I know! Exactly what you’ve always wanted to do in the throes of a sinus headache!

And it’s about to be spring pollen allergy season, and while I’m certainly not averse to copious amounts of Sudafed (does anyone else think they taste kind of sweet? But also: so annoying, that whole showing ID thing, amirite?) I’m a convert to the neti pot, and I am not shy about sharing my love for it. It’s a little Natural Healing and a lot gross, but it also makes your head feel instantly better. So.

1. Get a neti pot. You can find cheapie plastic ones at CVS or what have you for around 10 bucks. Don’t be fooled by those squirt-bottles filled with saline or those baby snot-sucker things. You want the real deal, sister. If you’re feeling fancy, you can hop on Etsy and get a fancy ceramic one like a Real Hippie would, but that will take a few days to get to you and this experience is all about IMMEDIATE RELIEF.

2. Find a private place with a sink where you can do your “rinsing.” No one is really going to want to see you do this, and let me just say that there is nothing awkwarder than having someone walk in on you in your co-ed dorm bathroom while you’re dribbling saline solution out a nostril. Seclusion is good.

3. Get the water about wrist-temperature warm (as in, you can run it over your wrist without it scalding you) and fill the neti pot about halfway full. Start small! Eventually you’ll be able to just hook your face up to a garden hose, but for now you should focus on learning the basics and not accidentally waterboarding yourself.

4. Most drugstore neti pots come with a jillion pre-mixed packets of “saline solution,” so go ahead and add about half of one to your water if yours did and mix it with the enclosed little spoon. If not, you can just whip up your own by added 3 parts sea salt (not table salt, oh God ow) and 1 part baking soda, and stir with your finger. Chemistry!

5. Tie back your hair, if you haven’t already (headbands are great). Stick the tip of the neti pot into one nostril just far enough so that it’s more or less sealed, then tilt your head so that the water flows down through the top nostril and out the bottom. Over the sink, BTW! It may take some hand/head adjustments before you get the hang of it…and breathe through your mouth.

6. Okay, the gross part. Look away if you’re that squeamish. The water should be basically pushing the snot out and dripping out of your nose and (hopefully) into the sink. Once the pot’s empty, repeat on the other side. Don’t freak out if a little watersnot comes out of your mouth–all the holes in your head are connected, right?

7. Blow your nose, clean off your face, breathe the free air. Ahhh! Ain’t life swell? And so easy! You should rinse out your sink, duh, and then wash out the neti pot itself. But you can just pop most plastic neti pots on the top rack of the dishwasher, so it’s NBD.

And there you have it. I’d like to dedicate this how-to to my dad, who, as I have mentioned, once told me he didn’t care if I even went to college as long as I learned to blow my own damn nose. Well, how’s this?! It’s like having a PhD in mucous extraction!


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