I bought a sinus irrigation system a few days ago. I have some sinus issues so naturally I’ve been self-diagnosing on the Web. I read about these sinus rinse products that are available. So began my quest for pristine sinus passages.
I bought this device called a neti pot – a cross between a little personal-sized teapot and a genie’s magic lamp. Neti is an Indian word for nasal. Apparently, people in India have been irrigating their nasal passages for centuries as part of practicing Yoga. I tried Yoga once. It was painful. My neti pot instruction manual assured me that irrigating my sinuses would be a soothing and enjoyable practice.
The neti pot comes with little packets containing just the right amounts of sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate. When mixed with eight ounces of filtered water, they produce the perfect saline solution, guaranteed not to cause stinging or burning sensations in the nasal passages. Well, that's a relief.
So the idea is to pour the saline solution out of the neti pot through the spout into one of your nostrils. The solution goes up and over and comes out the other nostril, flushing away all your sinus problems. The booklet gives helpful hints on the whole process: use lukewarm rather than hot, boiling, or cold water, perform the procedure over a sink, since a whole cup of water is about to pour out of your nose, and my favorite tip, and I quote “Do not hold your breath and, if possible, make the sound ‘KHA…KHA…’” I loved this part. For the rest of the day, as each family member came through the front door, I ran to get my little neti pot booklet. After a quick explanation of nasal irrigation, I’d show him this part.
“Mom, you’re a freak,” they each said, but they couldn’t suppress the grin.
That evening, I was ready for my first treatment. I gently warmed some filtered water in the microwave, making sure there were no hot spots, and poured it into the neti pot. I added the contents of one packet and, with my thumb over the spout, shook to dissolve. I then carried the pot and the instruction booklet into the bathroom. I gave the pot a little rub for good luck and imagined a sinus genie rising up out of the spout and granting me three sinus-related wishes.
“Standing in front of a sink, bend forward to your comfort level and tilt your head to one side’” I read. Here goes, I thought.
I poured. Some of the solution did start coming out the other nostril, but the rest of it was suddenly filling up my mouth. I quickly tried to make the “KHA…KHA…” sound and nearly drowned in the attempt.
After recovering, I looked at the booklet again.
“It should not come into your mouth unless you are tilting your head backwards.”
I tried it again, positioning my head more carefully, but I skipped the vocals. I’d decided that the KHA… KHA… must have some kind of mystical yoga benefit that was way beyond my experience.
This time it worked fine. I wouldn’t have called it soothing or enjoyable, but I was hopeful that all my sinus issues would soon be resolved.
Within a couple of hours, I had a terrible sinus headache. It lasted all night. And I must have washed away some brain cells, because the next day, after the headache had subsided, I irrigated my sinuses again. Well, it could have been a coincidence, right? It wasn’t. I was almost immediately struck with the worst sinus headache of my life.
My face hurt.
For two days.
And so ended my quest for pristine sinus passages. If I want to cure my symptoms, I’m going to have to do it some other way. Better keep searching the Web.