Do your sinuses feel like they are in spasm? That’s when I know it’s time to… (drumroll)… use my neti pot! After recent generous Midwest rains, I think the mold count these days is an exacerbating factor. I thought I’d share the approaches below:
The first one is to use a neti pot for nasal irrigation. It has a very long history of use: “The neti pot is the oldest form of nasal irrigation and was developed as an ayurvedic yoga tradition in ancient India.” It is not necessary to know about the Ayurvedic/ Ayurveda roots in order to benefit from nasal irrigation.
Whether you find this man amusing or a bit over-the-top,he demonstrates two of the options in nasal irrigation. There’s a scary video following this one that talks about amoebic brain infection from getting water up the nose. On that point, I boil the water I use in my neti and let it come to just barely warm temp before I use it. I put it in a 2 cup Pyrex cup, If it cools off too much, I reheat it for 1/2 min or so in the microwave. Always test it on your finger first. I use the inexpensive salt packets sold with the NeilMed neti pot; I use 2 packets to make the solution a bit hypertonic, since that will pull more nasal fluids out of the tissue. I have used the squeeze bottle technique shown in the video, but don’t like the amount of active force. I prefer the passive force of the vacuum created with a good seal on the nare that happens with the traditional neti pot. It’s gentler and lets gravity do the work.
Also regarding the technique shown, you don’t need to blow that forcefully afterward to clear the nare (that side of the nose). A simple puff will do. What I find most helpful is to hang upside down afterward to clear the extra fluid out of your Eustachian tubes (make sure you have a handful of nasal tissues). You can do a yoga position to drain out the extra fluid from your nose and Eustachian tubes: Inverted triangle pose helps clear the Eustachian tubes. This “revolved” triangle pose should work equally as well.
Apart from sinus surgery, nasal irrigation has been the most helpful thing for my sinus health. That said, you want to make sure you have a patent nasal airway–if you’ve had a broken nose or anything, the water might not go where it is supposed to go.
Here’s a recipe for the salt solution that an ENT gave me:
~ 1/2 -1 tsp pickling salt (no preservatives)
~1/2 tsp baking soda (to buffer the sting of the salt)
Stimulating acupressure points on the face and relaxing neck and facial muscles is another way to relieve sinus pressure. This technique is helpful for getting the sinuses to drain. I’ve had these points targeted during acupuncture. I have found acupuncture to be helpful as well.
There will be a hand mudra used in the alternate nostril breathing technique mentioned next. Hand mudras can help facilitate healing in many areas of the body.
Alternate nostril breathing is a technique Meg, my former yoga teacher, taught the class. Besides better sleep and feeling calmer, she said it is also good for sinuses. This is a close approximation to the technique she taught.
When in doubt, seek medical attention and advice for sinus trouble. Know that antibiotics often are not effective since the sinuses are not well-vasculated. Also, most sinus infections are self-limiting and will resolve without antibiotics. The use and overuse of antibiotics is another topic that deserves a separate blog post. Sometimes chronic, recalcitrant sinus infections need surgical intervention to fix physical impediments. I had sinus surgery in 1994, which helped a lot. I had a deviated septum and so had a septoplasty and the installation of “NA windows.”
These are just a few of the things that have helped me and my sinuses throughout the years. I hope you find relief from your sinus woes.