*DISCLAIMER* If you suffer from sinus and allergy problems, this post is for you. It’s kind of gross. If you are one of the lucky ones who don’t have this problem, you might want to skip this one.
Auntie Em has been fighting a sinus infection for over a month now. That’s part of the reason you haven’t seen much new content here on the blog. In addition to antibiotics, decongestant, Prednisone, cough medicine, Mucinex, and enough water to float a battleship, I’ve found something that has helped a lot: a saline nasal rinse. I was introduced to it when I had sinus surgery 6 years ago, and honestly, I probably wouldn’t have tried it had I not been instructed to by my doctor. It took some getting used to, but now that I can do it without choking, I heartily recommend it!
The warm salty water soothes irritated sinus cavities; the salt draws some of the fluid out of the tissues; and it loosens and cleans out nasty mucus, taking away the breeding ground for more infection. Here’s what you need:
You can use a Neti pot and buy ready made packets or make your own and use a bulb syringe. I use a cup of warm water, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/8-1/4 tsp baking soda. Stir till dissolved. Start with a weaker solution; too much salt can burn. The first time I did it I made the stronger solution, and when it (inevitably) got down my throat I thought I had gargled with acid or something and I was hoarse for a while!
- Put your hair back. It’s a little messy.
- Get tissues and/or hand towels ready for when you’re finished.
- Practice holding your breath in different ways. (Going into choir teacher mode)
- Making a “k” sound closes everything, and you should do this when you start to avoid the water running down your throat. It won’t hurt anything but you might cough and sputter!
- You can close off just your sinuses by making a “ng” sound. If you can do this while breathing through your mouth, you can hold the solution in your sinuses longer, which is a good thing.
TO USE– you want the solution to go all into your sinuses, even up behind your eyes. You’ll need to get upside down. My ears are very stopped up too, and leaning my head forward, like over the bathtub, hurts, so I lean my head back as far as I can instead. I hold on to the door frame to help keep my balance.
- Lean your head back or over. Fill the syringe and gently place it far up into your nostril. Closing off your sinuses, gently squeeze out the solution. You will be able to feel it inside your head; it’s weird. Hold for 15-30 seconds, or as long as you can. Then lean over the sink or tub and let it drain out.
- Repeat a few times. Blow to clean out. (I’m sorry this is gross.)
- Finish off by “running” the solution through your sinuses. Lean over sideways; put the syringe into your top nostril and squeeze the solution through. It will drain out the other side. Then switch sides.
- Blow, wipe, and clean up.
A bit of water might continue to drip out for a while, so keep a tissue handy. You will be surprised what is hiding in your head even after you think you are clear of infection. Hope this helps!