What is a neti pot? And why would you use one?

Answers from James T C Li, M.D., Ph.D.

A neti pot is a container designed to rinse your nasal cavity. You might use a neti pot to treat nasal allergies, sinus problems or colds. In fact, many people believe that regular use of a neti pot is more effective for nasal allergy and sinus symptoms than are over-the-counter medications.

If you are making your own saltwater solution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using bottled water that has been distilled or sterilized. Tap water is acceptable if it's been passed through a filter with a 1-micron pore size or if it's been boiled for several minutes and then left to cool.

To use the neti pot, tilt your head over the sink, place the spout of the pot in the upper nostril and gently pour in the water. As you pour, the water will flow through your nasal cavity and out the lower nostril. Repeat on the other side.

Be sure to rinse the irrigation device after each use with similarly distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered water and leave open to air dry.

Neti pots are often available in pharmacies and health food stores, and you can find an even wider selection online.

Feb. 17, 2012