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Sinus Flushing

Ancient solution to allergy symptoms


Sinus Flushing

When our sinuses act up, whether due to hay fever, a cold, or a sinus infection, sinus rinsing with a neti pot can bring welcome relief.

For many Canadians, colder weather should mean much sought-after relief from chronic sneezing, watery eyes, and painful sinuses, common symptoms of hay fever.

However, fall brings forth new allergens, not to mention colds, flus, and sinus infections. Fortunately, sinus flushing
can offer relief from various sinus and nasal conditions.

Dreaded seasonal allergies

Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, is triggered by the immune system’s response to inhaled particles, most frequently pollen, mold, or ragweed. In the spring, pollen is the culprit, and in the fall, mold spores and ragweed are often to blame, sometimes causing discomfort into early November.

When pollen or spores are inhaled by a person who is predisposed to allergies, an immune reaction is triggered, producing allergen-specific antibodies. These antibodies migrate to mast cells on the lining of the nose, eyes, and lungs and cause a release of histamine, hence the sneezing, itchy eyes, and scratchy throat. Histamine irritates and inflames the moist membranes of the upper respiratory tract in response to any allergen.

Blame Dad

So why do some poor souls suffer with seasonal allergies while others are spared? The answer lies in genetics and the immune system. According to some researchers, allergic rhinitis seems to be passed down by the father’s genes; in other words, if your father has allergies, you are more likely to have allergies.

Sinus flushing today

Although nasal irrigation has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, it’s only been in the past five years that nasal flushing has come into the media spotlight as a safe and effective treatment of allergies and congestion.

For most people, sinus flushing with a saline or saltwater solution can promote good nasal health and relief of symptoms such as facial pain, headache, watery discharge, and nasal congestion.

The studies are in

In a recent meta-analysis researchers at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children found that daily saline nasal irrigation relieves symptoms, decreases doctor visits, and may aid in preventing antibiotic resistance.

Another study found in American Family Physician  reported that the regular use of the neti pot (a popular device for easy nasal irrigation) is a safe and effective treatment for hay fever
and sinusitis, with no reported major adverse effects.

This evidence is important for those relying on prescription medicines for allergies, which can interact with other medications or even lead to long-term problems, as observed in a 2009 study linking inhaled steroids and Cushing’s syndrome. Now many doctors are recommending this traditional therapy for their patients with much success.

A brief history of the neti pot

Safe neti pot use
  1. Fill neti pot with approximately 1 cup (250 mL) warm
    water, as cold water may irritate the nasal tissue.
    Stir in 1/4 tsp (1 mL) noniodized salt.
  2. Stand with your head over the sink.
  3. Tilt your head to one side at about a 45 degree angle and
    place the spout of the pot into the elevated nostril.
  4. Tip the neti pot until water flows slowly through one nostril
    and down through the other nostril into the sink. Adjust
    angle as necessary so that water flows easily and does not
    go down your throat.
  5. Let the water flow for 20 seconds while breathing
    through your mouth.
  6. Switch sides.

The origins of the neti pot can be traced back centuries to India, where yogis used regular nasal irrigation for clear breathing. Focus on deep breathing is a central tenet of yoga. The breath is seen as the meeting place between the physical body and the mind, which is why the ability to breathe clearly is the foundation of good health according to Ayurvedic philosophy.

Started by yogis in ancient India and now found in health food stores across North America, the neti pot, usually made of ceramic or plastic, resembles an elongated teapot with a long,
slender spout.

Sinus flushing safety and recommended use

Using the neti pot may seem a bit daunting at first. It is normal to experience slight nervousness and discomfort while getting used to the technique. However, no major adverse effects have ever been reported, and only patients with unhealed facial wounds or some neurological or musculoskeletal problems should avoid nasal irrigation.

While no strict guidelines exist on how often one should use the neti pot, daily use may offer relief to some individuals, while others may find weekly use enough. In general, the frequency of use depends on individual results and can vary from person to person. But with regular use, this ancient technique can provide lasting relief from sinus woes.



Your winter wellness game plan

Your winter wellness game plan

Stay healthful when the weather outside is frightful

Joshua Duvauchelle

Joshua Duvauchelle