Nasal lavage has been practiced for thousands of years as a part of yoga practices. More and more people today are experiencing the powerful benefits of regular nasal irrigation. These benefits include reduced or eliminated use of medication, improved sleep, reduced frequency and duration of colds, improved smell and taste, and even reduced asthma symptoms.
There are many systems available that all work to irrigate the sinuses and nasal passages. The key is getting the right solution that works best for you. The terms used to describe how salty a solution is are:
Hypotonic: less salty than the body
Isotonic: same saltiness as the body
Hypertonic: more salty than the body
I often recommend hypertonic solutions based on the rule that water follows salt. An isotonic solution will work well to remove mucous, but when inflammation is also causing congestion and pressure a hypertonic solution will help this as well. The water that's trapped in the mucous membranes as a result of the inflammation will be released by flushing with a solution that is saltier than the body. Many sufferers of chronic sinus problems swear by swimming in the ocean. This is the same principle at work. For some, a hypertonic solution can cause a mild stinging sensation. A small amount of baking soda can be added to the water to reduce this sensation. I strongly recommend to avoid using a hypotonic solution. Remember, water follows salt. The water from such a solution is absorbed by the mucous membranes creating more inflammation and a worsening of symptoms. I've had patients in the past who have done this and it can take some time to reverse the damage that this creates. The following is the recipe I often recommend:
8 oz. warm water
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
I also like the salt mix made by NasalCare because it contains an extract of aloe vera which can help soothe mucous membranes and also reduce the possibility of a burning sensation from the salt.
So, how does it really feel?, you might ask. Some people would say that it's definitely a sloppy endeavor, takes some time to master and can even be uncomfortable. Others would say that it's quite simple and not uncomfortable at all. It's very subjective. The results, however, are pretty universal. There are rarely any negative side effects. Occasionally, when a patient uses a system with a squeeze bottle and too much pressure is applied it can cause water to enter the deeper sphenoid sinus. This water can remain there and be released later at a not so convenient time when bending over.
You might also ask, "Is it right for me?" You won't know until you try it. If you take an allergy medicine often and suffer from chronic sinus congestion I guarantee you will breathe better and feel better from regular nasal irrigation. If you just have a cold I'm sure you won't complain about the improved sleep and shorter duration of your cold from using nasal lavage.
The following video is from Nasopure and shows several people doing nasal irrigation including a 3 year old girl.