Monday, October 5, 2009

Neti pots

This fall, the air in Bellingham has been absolutely filled with pollen, mold spores, or something that is causing me to suffer from allergies more than I can remember. I know that in some places I've lived I have had allergic reactions in the spring and fall, but something in the air here in Bellingham has brought sneezing, itchy eyes and throat, and a nose that has been running like a faucet. This has been going on now for about two weeks. I finally gave in and began using some of my husband's allergy medicines.

First I started with ceterizine (generic Zyrtec) and found a little bit of relief, not complete, for about 3-4 hours. This is a 24-hour pill, so I was pretty unhappy with the results. Still sneezing, running, going through tissues at the rate of about one every five minutes. Next, I tried loratadine (generic Claritin) which worked a little bit better, but the duration of relief was certainly not the 24 hours advertised. I went on the Internet and then decided to double the dose of loratadine and was feeling much better, but I was still not completely free of symptoms. So, my next step was down to the local drugstore for some information on nasal sprays. I found out that loratadine is a much safer drug than ceterizine and confirmed this on Wikipedia. But in the end, the only drug that I have found to be truly effective is benadryl. It works quickly but doesn't last long, either. It is good for 3-5 hours for me, which is fine. I just take another one.

While I was at the drugstore, I saw a neti pot and sinus irrigation stuff for sale on the shelf, prominently displayed as being useful in treating seasonal allergies as well as sinusitis. My sinuses are not clogged, but of course the next thing I did was go home to watch some YouTube demonstrations of how people use neti pots. Well, as you can imagine, there were some hair-raising and funny ones. One guy had a video of him using a neti pot with the saline solution you're expected to use, then coffee, and finally showing him trying to use Jack Daniels (don't try this at home). He found that last one to be, um, intoxicating in all the wrong ways. One guy used an old workout water bottle. The recommended saline solution is non-iodine fine salt, a quarter teaspoon to eight ounces of warm water.

I bought one, and this morning when I woke I went in and brushed my teeth and used the neti pot. The warm saline solution goes in one nostril and out the other. It's actually quite soothing, in some obscure way, and I found that I didn't need the benadryl quite yet. While writing this post, the benadryl is six hours in the past, and I felt the familiar itching in my nose, so I quick went in and irrigated both nostrils. I'm still not sure I will be able to keep from using the benadryl, but I really don't like all these drugs in my system. Now this picture illustrates how it works, and I'm, if not a complete convert, at least willing to use it twice or three times a day to see if it does what it's advertised to do: clean out the sinuses and keep the allergies from taking over. The neti pot is quite inexpensive (maybe ten bucks) and some places sell pre-mixed saline solution with baking soda for soothing the savage nostril.

So now it's been seven hours since I last took any allergy medicine and have the benadryl armed and ready if necessary. Of course, it's impossible to know if I would be allergy-free right now without any treatment, because I can't very well do a double blind study with just me. I'll keep you posted, but I sure would like to know if anyone else has used this handy little pot with good (or ill) results.


  1. I don’t how to comment on this DJan as I don’t have allergies but this little machine looks neat. I hope it does alleviate your allergies.

  2. I like the neti pot. It can be soothing and therefore emotionally addictive, but it's not harmful in any way. Regular rinsing can really help to keep some of the pollens and dust mites out of your nasal passages. Just be sure to buy distilled water. You also want to be very careful with the temperature of the water, but just the right amount of warmth can make it that much more soothing. My neti pot is microwave safe, and 15 seconds is just about right (for me), but DO NOT pour in the salt solution until AFTER you microwave it or the water will heat up WAY too fast.

    For me, however, the best weapons against allergies are allergy shots (grass and tree pollens in my left arm, and molds, mites, and animal whatever in my right arm) and daily anti-inflammatory glucocorticoid sprays (I use fluticasone propionate, a.k.a. Flonase). I've been using Flonase every day for years, and I've been told by both my family doctor and my allergist that using either Flonase or Nasonex for the rest of your life is basically harmless. It certainly doesn't make me feel drowsy like so many pills can; in fact, the sprays don't even feel like they're doing anything at all, but over time they will simply reduce your adverse reactions to pollens and stuff. I'm sure there are horror stories about those sprays on the web somewhere, but we all have to make our choices. For me, it's shots, sprays, and my neti pot.

  3. I love my neti pot. Since I have been almost constantly pregnant or nursing for the last several years, I am unable to take any kind of sinus medicines, so I resorted to using the neti pot. My friend Tracie's kids have used one from about three years old, and they love it too.

    Good luck!

  4. Ok since our family is asthmatic, we often suffer those symptoms that you have mentioned, we got rid of those antihistamine pills that didn't have an effect in us at all. Why don't you try inhalation. It works with us...I am not if it will work with your climate situation. We put boiling water in a basin and cover ourselves with a blanket and inhale the steam and then we sweat. Another thing that I do is running DJ, this is really effective since I have tried it a lot of times. Be well.


  5. I have one of those too! I want to dry the drugstore solution though as I found using my saline mixture too strong and it really stung!

    I say avoid chemical solutions if this works!

  6. I saw this on Oprah with Dr. Oz. What a nice, natural way to help alleries! I have been having problems this fall particular, my right eye keeps watering! It is better now that we had our first, hard frost, so I think time will heal that for me.

  7. The neti-pot is OK, but I prefer the squeeze bottle. Yes, it is wonderful! Once I mowed into a big clump of something that blew up and into my face. Immediately, I started sneezing! I went in and rinsed my sinuses. Voila! No problems.

    It took until this year to convince Hubby to try it. He's now sold on it too. My BF is forever grateful to me for telling her about it.

    I buy the little packets to mix into 8 oz. It gives the perfect PH mixture.

  8. Hubby swears by saline rinses and squirting things up one's nose. I'd rather get my blood drawn then stick things up my nose, but he's right. It does work! And rids you of using all those chemicals. Glad you found some relief! -kate

  9. I am bothered by plants, especially geraniums, and most flowers. I can tolerate them outside, but never in the house. Too many years in the greenhouses! I used to take prescription Zyrtec. Our daughter is constantly squirting saline solutions in her nose, she is an RN and has lots of allergies..spring and fall. I have never used a neti pot..but I do hope it does the trick for you! :)

  10. My allergies are pretty mild and usually two antihistamine in the morning will do the trick. The neti pot looks interesting but, like kate, I can't stand the thought of even using nose drops much less flowing water.

    To answer your question, all of the photos on both my blogs were taken by me. If I use one from somewhere else, which is very rare, I will add a little note to name the source.

    I've been doing photography for about twenty years, I started with a SLR and film.


  11. My daughter swears by it. If it works, and you don't have to take all those medications, I say why not? We just returned from Portland and my husband had a hard time. I feel so fortunate not to have allergies. Knock on wood.

  12. What I do Djan, is to fill my left palm with warm water out of the tap and sniff! It works just as well and didn't cost me anything. This problem seems to be increasing with the years and everyone seems to be suffering with allergies more than they used to. I blame the air conditioning and central heating systems. I think we should all get out more and get de-sensitised to the pollens. That's just my opinion. I am allergic to mosquito bites and one day, I will post a picture of my leg after I've been bitten, but I don't want to cause too much shock and horror. Perhaps I'll wait till Halloween?
    I hope you find the solution to your misery soon because it sounds just awful to put up with. A very enlightening post.
    Blessings, Star

  13. I'm going to look for a Neti pot for hubby; he swears by a salt solution when nothing else works.

    I have one other solution that will help some and it works as hubby does not have as much trouble as he once did. Buy local honey, i.e. within 50 miles of your house, and take at least 1 teaspoon a day. Buy in fairly small quantities so you can keep up with the season's changing pollens. Better than allergy shots. :D

  14. I'm doing a blog about the neti-pot soon. Loved your blog!


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