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Sinus Irrigation – When, How & Why

Sinus Irrigation – When, How & Why

Your sinuses are hollow cavities within the skull that are lined with soft tissue and a very thin layer of mucus. Their main purpose is to produce mucus that moisturizes the inside of your nose and protects the nose from things like allergens, pollutants, and bacteria. Unfortunately, viral infections or even allergens can lead to both inflammation and infection of the sinuses causing pain and discomfort. More than 30 million people in the United States experience sinus complications each year. For some it is seasonal, and for others it is an ongoing issue. 

If you are one of the many who suffer from recurring sinus complications, one of Camellia ENT’s home remedy recommendations is sinus irrigation. While irrigating your sinuses will by no means solve the root cause of your sinus complications, it can prevent infection and reduce symptoms such as pressure. It will also cleanse out some of the allergens that are left behind in the nose and sinuses that lead to the inflammation causing a lot of the discomfort. This article will discuss exactly what sinus irrigation is, how to do it, safety tips, and when other methods should be considered.

What is sinus irrigation? 

Sinus irrigation is very simply a means of rinsing out or flushing out the sinus cavities. It is very basic in concept in that a saline or salt water solution flows through one side and out the other, pushing out excess mucus and debris left within the nose and sinuses. It is a very effective method of reducing complications created by allergies and has even been reported to replace the need of allergy medication in some cases.

How to irrigate your sinuses

There are a few different methods of irrigating your sinuses, the most common being a Neti Pot or squeeze bottle. The first step is to mix your salt water solution. Some delivery devices will come with packets of saline to mix in with water but you can also use regular table salt or Neti Pot Salt. Boil your water for a minimum of five minutes to remove any micro-organisms or simply buy distilled water from the store. Once your water is cooled to room temperature, mix in your salt. You should only use a quarter teaspoon of salt per 8 ounces of water; using more could burn when doing your sinus flush. If using a squeeze bottle, simply put the tip up to one nostril and give a small squeeze. Always start with a small amount of pressure to avoid discomfort or risk of fluid going into the ears or elsewhere. You will feel the solution hit the back of the nose and it will either come back out that nostril or the other side. If you are using a more free flowing delivery device such as a Neti Pot, you will pour the solution in one side and it will flow out through the other side. Camellia ENT suggests holding your elbow at a 45 degree angle and tilting your head slightly away in the opposite direction for proper flow. If the solution is going down your throat you should adjust your position until it properly comes out the other side. Be sure to breathe through your mouth and not your nose during application. Once done, repeat with the other nostril. After you are done flushing out your sinuses, you will likely automatically feel the urge to blow your nose; doing so will help to clear out any excess mucus.

Safety Tips

Irrigating your sinuses is safe and effective when done properly. You can irrigate daily or as many times as recommended by your physician. Below are some tips to ensure you are not creating further harm by irrigating your sinuses.

  • Wash your hands prior to mixing the solution and starting irrigation.
  • Your delivery device should be cleaned before and after each use and close to sterile if not completely sterile before use.
  • Use distilled water or boil your water for a minimum of five minutes to remove bacteria or microorganisms. Neglecting to do so could lead to an infection
  • Avoid using hot or cold water; Room temperature is ideal.

When to see a doctor

Irrigating your sinuses can help to manage symptoms but is not a “fix all” solution. If you are still experiencing symptoms or if they have gotten worse after 10 days you should schedule an appointment with your local ENT. If you experience symptoms such as high fever, vision changes, or discolored mucus discharge, you likely need to be treated for an infection and should seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you experience chronic sinus complications and would like to take the next steps past a home remedy option, Camellia ENT would be happy to sit down and discuss your situation. Contact us today for your consultation!

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