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A sinus wash, also referred to as a nasal wash, saline wash or nasal irrigation, is a way to cleanse the nasal passages and sinuses using a saline solution for the treatment of colds, sinus infections, allergies, dry nasal passages or other sinus issues. It may also improve the sense of smell and taste. When using a neti pot, the process is referred to as Jala Neti, originating from practitioners of yoga in India. Many people include a sinus wash as part of their daily hygiene routine.
There are many products on the market for irrigating one's sinuses; some include expensive "systems" and kits. The simplest way, however, is to purchase a small vessel with a narrow spout that can contain the saline solution. A plastic or ceramic neti pot is one example, but you could also use a nasal cup or a bottle that is designed for the purpose. For the purposes of this article, we will refer to it as a neti pot.
To use a neti pot, you will need to make a saline solution that is roughly equivalent in salinity to the human body. Neti pot salt is designed specially for use in a sinus wash, but any natural, non-iodine salt without any added anti-caking agents will work. Follow the instructions that come with your neti pot as to how much salt to include -- when you first begin, it might be a good idea to use a bit less salt than is recommended so you don't irritate the nasal tissue.
Add the salt and fill the pot with lukewarm water. Water that is too cold will actually cause more congestion, and water that is too hot can irritate the lining of the sinuses. Mix the water and salt well, and test the temperature of the water on the inside of your wrist. Next, it is time for the nasal wash. It is a very safe practice that should not cause any pain -- it may be a bit unpleasant the first few times you do it, but you will quickly get used to it and fine-tune the process.
Insert the spout of the neti pot into one nostril, forming a seal, and breathe through the mouth. It is important to keep your mouth open the whole time you are irrigating your nose with the sinus wash so the water does not run down the back of the throat. Bend over the sink and tip the head to one side. As you pour the saline wash slowly through one nostril, it will begin to drain out of the other nostril. In the beginning, you can use approximately half the neti pot in each nostril for the sinus wash. As you get more accustomed to it, you can use a whole pot in each nostril.
Once the water has run out of one nostril, exhale vigorously into the sink or a tissue and repeat the process on the other side. Do not block off one nostril when blowing into a tissue as this can cause water to go into the ears. Exhale vigorously through both nostrils until the nose is clear. This process can be repeated morning and evening, or can be performed just once a day. Practice makes perfect, and watching a video online might help you get the idea as well if you are having trouble.