Nasal Allergies and the Neti Pot

I’ve had nasal allergies for most of my life. From first grade up through now, I’ve bounced back and forth through various types of medicine, a variety of symptoms, and unpredictable outcomes.

My most recent regimen of meds was Flonase, Zyrtec, and, added just before Esme was born, Astelin. Together, These three seemed to take care of my symptoms pretty well.

However, one day recently I was playing around with Google Health. I had imported my prescription records, and it popped up some notices for me that the three medicines I was taking were from the same family, and that it didn’t recommend taking more than two at a time.

I also started reading about some side effects of the medications, particularly Astelin, and began to think about some things I’d recently been feeling: lethargic, grumpy, unmotivated, gaining weight. I had written these off as post-baby situational stress and symptoms. However, I realized that they matched up pretty well with the symptoms that other people had been reporting.

At that point, I made the decision to go cold turkey on my allergy medicines. Within a day or two, I felt that I had more energy and was not as grumpy as I had been recently. But I was still feeling my allergy symptoms. So I started to look into an option I’d been thinking about for a while: the Neti Pot. My friend Amy Walton had recommended it several years ago, but in my pride I asserted that modern allergy medicines were the best way to go and that I wasn’t going to have anything to do with pouring salt water down my nose.

Well, I’ve been using a Neti Pot for almost two weeks now, and I have to apologize to Amy: you were right. This thing is amazing! After the very first time using it, my nose felt better, and my symptoms went away. I used it two or three times a day the first week, and since then I’ve cut back a bit. I actually haven’t used it since last Thursday, and I still feel fine!

The real test will come this summer, when my allergies have typically been in full bloom. I suspect that I’ll need to use the Neti Pot more often to get things cleared out. But I’d much rather do that than take drugs that have potentially undesirable side effects! And it costs less, too! The Neti Pot kit I got was only $10 and came with 30 packets of saline mixture. You can buy a 100-pack for under $15, which should last a couple months. Or you can make your own solution at home! In any case, it’s cheaper than the $55/month I had been paying for my allergy medicine, and thus far, it seems to work even better!

So to all of the nasal allergy sufferers who haven’t yet tried the Neti Pot… give it a go! I think you’ll be glad you did.

9 thoughts on “Nasal Allergies and the Neti Pot

  1. Marc Amos

    Wow, the timing of this post is uncanny. I’m currently using a prescription for my nose problems, had heard about the Neti Pot, and had dismissed it mainly because it sounds like a silly process.

    Not anymore – I’m going to buy one now. Thank you.

  2. Bethany Joy Lange

    Oh man – I love my Neti Pot. I don’t have allergies, but I use it any time I’m around smoke (like if we go to a bar…almost never happens, but when it does) or as soon as I start feeling congestion/sneezy. I LOVE it. The idea of it grossed me out when I first saw it, but I’ve been grateful beyond measure for it. Yay Neti Pots!

  3. Angela

    I second Marc: uncanny timing, Peter. Jeremy just mowed the lawn for the first time this past weekend, and for the second year in a row immediately broke out in runny-nose-watering-eyes-sneezing. I dropped my only non-insulin medication about eight months ago because of its side effects, and I’ve been wary about drugs ever since. . . but Jeremy has been so miserable that he went out and got some Benadryl, which he can’t use during the day anyway because it makes him so drowsy. What exactly do you do with the Neti Pot? I’d want to know how it works before I bring it up, so that I could make it look attractive enough that he’d be willing to give it a shot.

  4. Peter Post author


    You take a little plastic pot and fill it with a saline solution. Then you insert the spout into one nostril, tilt your head to the side, and let the water pour through that nostril, through your sinuses, and out the other nostril. Then you repeat on the other nostril. It takes some getting used to, but it really, really works.

    Also, you can’t use just any pot, it’s important to use one of the right size and with a spout of the proper design so that the solution is properly funneled into a stream and so that it doesn’t pour until lifted to the proper angle.

    You can buy a kit at CVS for about $10.

  5. Jenny R.

    I may give this a try. Currently I only take Zyrtec for my allergies (seasonal and kitty), and I have a supervacuum, but still have allergies and deal with a lot of sinus problems. I get at least 4 or 5 full-blown sinus infections a year; I’ve gotten so used to it that it just seems natural now, but it shouldn’t! I’ll give the Netipot a try. At this point with my sinuses the way they are, I’ll try just about anything.

  6. Jenny R.

    Update, I bought my netipot and some salt mix today and tried my first irrigation. I think I’ll need some practice, though, I kept having that feeling of water going up my nose, and spluttering/choking on it. But after just one rinse, I can breathe more easily!

  7. Peter Post author

    Jenny: glad to hear you’re giving it a try! Here are my tips:

    • Make sure you are bending from the waist.
    • Turn your head so that one nostril is above the other.
    • Breathe slowly and continuously in and out through your mouth.
    • Make sure the water you are using is on the warm side of lukewarm. Cooler or cold water will constrict your nasal passages and the rinse won’t work.
    • Make sure your solution is mixed with the proper amount of water and stirred well.
    • If you are really congested, the rinse may simply not go through all the way to the other side. This happens to me some times, especially since I have a deviated septum which makes things get badly blocked up in one direction.

    Also, keep in mind that if things seem uncomfortable at first, it’s a yogic tradition… so it will get better.

    If you Google for Neti Pot you’ll find lots of resources…

  8. jill Holt

    Ah, yes the neti pot is great! We, too, discovered it this year. Ben was the first one to take the plunge, and after he said “I don’t think i’ve ever breathed this well out of my nose!” then I followed suite! 🙂 congrats and happy breathing 🙂


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