Jan 10, 2023 12:00 AM

Author: University of Utah Health Communications


Información en español

It’s that time of the year when you’re stuffed up and the only way to breathe is through your mouth. Finding relief to breathe easier can be challenging—and sometimes it may feel like nothing works. 

While there are over-the-counter medications available to help nasal congestion, you may be able to relieve your symptoms with a Neti Pot.

What Is a Neti Pot?

A Neti Pot is a small teapot with a long spout that allows a saline or saltwater solution to flow through the nostrils to help clear out allergens or mucus to help relieve nasal congestion.

Why a Neti Pot?

A Neti Pot can help remove dust, pollen, and other debris, as well as loosen mucus in the nostrils.

Richard Orlandi, MD, a nasal and sinus specialist and Chief Medical Officer of Ambulatory Health at University of Utah Health, told Consumer Reports, “Just about any condition that causes irritants and mucus to build up inside the nose will benefit from saltwater rinsing with a Neti Pot or similar device.” 

A nasal rinse can help improve symptoms due to:

  • Allergies
  • Colds
  • Sinus inflammation
  • Upper respiratory infections 

But don’t expect a Neti Pot to be a miracle treatment. While it can bring immediate relief, it can also take several tries—possibly several days using it twice a day—for symptoms to improve. Unlike nasal decongestants, which shouldn’t be taken for more than three days, there is no limit with a Neti Pot. “Patients experience the best relief from a Neti Pot after consistent use,” Orlandi says.

Why NOT a Neti Pot?

A Neti Pot may not always be the right treatment for a stuffed-up nose. It will not cause the source of infection to go away. And, Orlandi says, a Neti Pot won’t work if one or both nostrils are clogged. He suggests speaking with a doctor, such as an ear, nose, and throat specialist, for appropriate treatment. People with weakened immune systems and young children should also speak to their doctor about using a Neti Pot.

How to Use a Neti Pot

You must use distilled, sterile, or boiled (and cooled) tap water in the Neti Pot—do not use water straight from the tap. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), harmful organisms in tap water can stay alive in nasal passages and cause potentially serious infections.

“Tap water, and especially well water, has been implicated in very rare cases of aggressive—and even fatal—infections in the nose and sinuses,” Orlandi told Consumer Reports.

To use a Neti Pot, follow instructions included with the device.

  • Fill your Neti Pot with distilled, sterile, or boiled (and cooled) water and allow the saline or saltwater solution to dissolve.
  • Tilt your head to the side over a sink.
  • Put the spout of the Neti Pot on one nostril to allow it to funnel into the other one.
  • Clear your nostrils, then repeat on the other side.

Make sure to properly clean the Neti Pot thoroughly after each use.

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