Addendum to the previous post: Nasal irrigation and pressure points

[I’m going to spare you an illustration on this one]

Mrs. Homegrown here, again:

While I credit my recovery from this nasty cold/sinus thing largely to the herbal steams of my previous post, I also used a bit of nasal irrigation and pressure point therapy, so I thought I’d cover them too, real quick.

Nasal irrigation is the practice of cleaning out the nasal cavities with a saline solution. This dislodges gunk, and feels really good on dry, inflamed, or swollen tissue. It’s a good technique to use to keep a cold from becoming worse, and to alleviate symptoms–it helps temporarily clear a clogged nose, and can ease sinuses.

These days lots of folks use neti pots, an Indian import, to do this with some semblance of dignity. I don’t own a neti pot, so can’t speak to how to use one of those. I learned to do this the messy way long ago from my stepmother, who was a nurse.

All you do is dissolve 1 teaspoon of sea salt or kosher salt in 2 cups of water. The water should be close to body temperature, otherwise you’ll be uncomfortable when you snort it. Put the water in a cup or bowl big enough to get your nose into. You’ll have to play around to get the hang of this–it’s never pretty.

First, stand over a sink. Then fiddle around with the bowl and the angle of your head until manage to get your nostrils under water, plug one nostril with your fingers, and inhale with the other. The idea is to snort as much water up your nose as you can. You’ll know you’re doing it right when you taste the salt water at the back of your mouth. Then let go of your nostril and allow the water and snot to drain out into the sink. Change sides and repeat.

It is gross, but it’s worth doing because you’ll feel so much better afterward: all clean and fresh.


The second technique that I found helpful for sinus pain was pressure points. I don’t know much about this therapy, a friend suggested it and I just did as she said. I found it helped, or at least distracted me, when I wasn’t under my steam tent. I used two sets of points:

1) Press the tips of your index fingers on either side of your nostrils. Not on the nostrils themselves, but on the cheek right next to the nostrils. Hold firm for three or four minutes.

2) Press the tips of your index fingers on either side of the bridge of your nose, not at the corners of your eyes, but just under the corners, right beneath the squishy tear ducts. Hold for three or four minutes.

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  1. Similar to pressure points, to help clear out the stuffiness, you can also try this: Push on the top of your mouth with your tongue, then the top of the bridge of your nose with your fingers (just about where your eyebrows come together). Keep alternating this a few times and it slightly rocks the bones in your nasal area back and forth and helps loosen up the congestion (especially if you’ve already worked on it with steam).

  2. I regularly use sinus rinses when I am ill. I used to use the bowl method as you described. I never liked the neti pot as it didn’t really work any better than the bowl. My doctor recently turned me on the the NeilMed irrigator, and I love it. It allows you to actually administer the saline solution into your nose with some pressure, which is helpful when your nose is so stuffed you can’t really ‘breath in’. It is also significantly easier to use than a neti pot. I highly recommend this item as it will cost you less than $5, and is worth every penny.

  3. I do sinus irrigation in the shower! Plastic cup (its a now-outgrown bathtub toy) and no cleanup. I just take the salt cup in with me…fill it with shower water.

    Of course, this assumes you shower often enough to make it worthwhile. YMMV!

  4. Second time to post or not. It disappeared. I suppose I hit the wrong key.

    Advice to friend from doctor–use vibrator/massager on face to loosen sinus gunk. I read to hum to help loosen it. I hum one not and then change to another when I get boring.

    Reports I can verify–getting a pneumonia shot cuts down on frequency and severity of sinus infections. A friend and I agree.

    Mu sinus infections usually race to ears, throat, and chest. No more. Okay, not as often.

  5. Inhaling was not an option for me last year when I had a sinus infection. I simply couldn’t. To help clear out the blocked passages I combined a teaspoon or so of salt and warm water in a coffee cup, laid a folded towel along the edge of the kitchen sink, bent backwards so that my shoulders were on the towel and my head above the sink and slowly poured the water into my nostrils. After a brief moment the solution began to work its way through (there was a pop and I could suddenly taste salt water) and I continued pouring until the cup was empty. The process was a bit jarring and uncomfortable but it worked. For the first time in weeks I was able to breath through my nose. I repeated this process a numerous times over the following week. The infection soon passed.- Damian

  6. I can’t handle the snorting method, but I’m a big fan of the neti pot. There are even good scientific studies supporting the effectiveness of nasal irrigation. I’ve turned a few friends on to it and they’ve said it helped tremendously with their pet allergies.

  7. My ENT doctor gave me the recipe of the following:
    1 liter/quart of distilled water (tap may have bacteria)
    1 tsp. kosher or pickling salt
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. white vinegar
    1 tsp. white/clear corn syrup (moisterizer)

    I warm this mixture on the stove in a stainless steel pan until barely tepid. If it is warmer than that it feels way too hot inside the sinuses.

    Take a bulb syringe, like you would use on your ears. Completely fill the bulb full of the water mixture, hold your head over the sink and put the syringe into the nostril, but not to far and squeeze the water into the sinus. Go slowly or you may squirt the water in too fast and it will come out your mouth. This will flush all the nasties out of the sinuses.

    This does work very well. I had a bacterial infection that had colonized in my sinus tissue and I had to fight this infection for two years and had two surgeries and two different doctors before we finally got rid of it.

    This method is less messy than the netie pots.

  8. I spent too many years using salt or neil med and burned up my membranes. I can’t eat crackers anymore without coughing. But I love using Alkalol, an herbal sinus wash, with it’s own irrigation device. Now I need to try to replicate it using home steeped herbs…

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