I’ve had a cold for the past few days and have mostly been sitting around watching too much Big Bang Theory and singing “Soft Kitty” to myself. If you also watch too much Big Bang Theory, you’ll get the reference.
While I was back in the US last month my friend introduced me to the neti pot. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a little pot. You fill it with a salt water solution and pour it up one nostril and it comes out the other. For real. I’m not exactly sure how pouring water up your nose came up in conversation with my friend but it probably had to do with my constant sneezing over her cats. She told me I should try a neti pot for my allergies, so when my Amazon order needed an extra few dollars to get free shipping (darn you, Amazon.com for making me always spend $25 instead of giving me free shipping on everything like Amazon.co.uk!), I bought a neti pot. I tried it once and almost forgot about it until my recent sickness.
That first time I tried nasal irrigation (the fancy name for it. See also “nasal douching,” the always comical name for it) I hated it. The reason I failed swimming lessons as a kid is because I hate getting water up my nose. Even as an adult I always have to hold my nose when going under. So pouring water up my nose was not at all an enjoyable or relieving sensation. I didn’t understand the hype. But when I was desperate to breathe and relieve my sinus pressure during my recent illness, I brought my little pot out again. I can now say that the neti pot is the best thing ever if you’re sick… as long as you do it correctly.
For starters, never use tap water. When I told my friend I got my neti pot, one of her friends freaked out and told me on Facebook that I was going to die. OK, not really, but she said there were many cases of people dying because they used neti pots. That’s not exactly what you want to hear when you’re nasal douching (hehe) — that it won’t just make you feel like you’re drowning in the ocean, it will also kill you. So I put on my investigative journalist hat and decided to check it out. It turns out only two people died and they were both in Louisiana, where apparently they have brain-eating amoebas in their tap water. (Note to self: do not drink the tap water in Louisiana). I even asked my doctor and he told me neti pots are perfectly safe and effective as long as you use distilled or filtered water. If you have to use tap water, boil it and let it cool a bit first.
I also learned there’s a right way to tilt your head. At one point the solution started coming out my mouth, which is equally as gross as milk coming out your nose when you laugh really hard, but no where near as hilarious.
My final tip is to watch how you blow your nose when you’re through irrigating. If you hold one nostril closed, you can blow mucus into your ear canals. I found this out after googling “neti pot ear pain” because I apparently don’t know how to blow my nose correctly.
So my ears hurt a little and I had to deal with a salt water mucus taste in my mouth, but I could breathe again. So if you’re suffering from a wicked head cold, I recommend pouring salt water up your nose and watching it come out the other nostril. It will make you feel much better. I also recommend watching a lot of Big Bang Theory.
(Final Deep Thought While Sick: Are can’t-breathe-out-of-either-nostril colds as miserable for mouth breathers? Discuss.)