Dec 8, 2010

Cold Season and the Nasal Lavage

It's cold season, and almost everyone in the household has a runny nose or stuffed nose or both.

And I got a tip from Doc Bro that I would like to share with everyone: nasal lavage!

Yep, it's great! I use salty water to wash out the nose and clear out all the gunk right up to the sinuses. I've read it also helps you get over the cold faster.

(I think this was originally a yogi practice from India. They inhale the salt water and it goes right down their throats. Non-yogis may find it yucky for some reason. The non-yogi method involves pouring the water into one nostril and letting it drip out the other.)

Making the saline solution

You mix about one-fourth teaspoon of non-iodized salt with eight ounces of water. I use the baby bottle for measuring this.

If you're finicky, you might prefer to use distilled water. Filtered is fine. Heck, if you can drink it, you can wash your nose with it -- as long as it's water, not coffee.

How do you know you've measured things right? Taste it. If it tastes like tears, it's right.

Actually, the main reason we add salt is to keep the water from stinging in your nose.

When you've got your mixture right, put it in a very clean squeeze bottle with a not-too-small hole. I use one that used to hold feminine wash.

Using the nasal lavage

Now go to the sink, tilt you head sideways, press the hole of the bottle on the upper nostril, and press. The solution goes into one nostril, up the sinuses, out the other.

It may sting a little if you put too little or too much salt, but it's a very small sting. If you're just starting out, it may help to keep the water lukewarm.

Don't tilt the head back so that the water doesn't flow down your throat, but if it does, it's okay.

Breathe through your mouth as you wash your nose.

Keep washing until the water is clear. Then blow your nose gently.

Repeat with the other nostril.

Nasal washing for kids

This was hard, especially for kids below four years old. So I did some research.

The easiest way to teach kids to do the nasal wash is to make it a game and keep the kids within their comfort zone. Start by having the squirt bottle in the bath.  Let them get used to getting squirted in the face. Squirt on the cheek, mouth, chin, nose.

Eventually, you can get them used to little squirts in the nose.

Proceed gradually. It could take weeks before you can actually get them to squirt a lot of water into their nose, and longer before they will let the water go from one nostril through to the other.

But researches have shown that this practice not only helps heal colds but also prevents it. So in my opinion, it's well worth the effort.

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