Preparing for Irrigation


If you have recurrent or chronic sinus disease, you may require more aggressive therapy with saline solution. You will need to irrigate with a neti pot (i. e., Baraka pot) or an irrigation device (i. e., Hydro Pulse). You can purchase a neti pot at most pharmacies or health-food stores, and irrigation devices can be found at most pharmacies. Some people use a simple squeeze bottle, but the drawback is the reflux of infection that can reenter a squeeze bottle. I prefer that my patients use the neti pot or an irrigation device. A squeeze bottle that does not reflux would be a good choice, but the neti pot and the irrigation devices seem to have a more steady flow of saline delivered with more reliable pressure.

I usually recommend that patients irrigate with a solution that has the same amount of salt that is contained in our bodies. This is called “normal saline” or “isotonic saline.” Some doctors sell and recommend hypertonic solutions, which contain a higher concentration of salt than that of our bodies. Others recommend hypotonic solutions, which contain less salt than that of our bodies. But I usually recommend normal saline solution to start because it is the most well tolerated and least inflammatory.

You can buy prepared sterile saline from most pharmacies, but large quantities may require a prescription from your doctor. Some insurance companies will cover this as it is a necessary treatment for the care of your sinuses. However, if your insurance won’t pay for it, you can inexpensively and easily make the saline yourself. The drawback is that it is time-consuming to make saline the right way, and you really want to be exact when you whip up a batch of normal saline.

If you decide make your own solution, start with distilled water; your tap water may contain impurities that can cause inflammation of your sinuses. Bring distilled water to a boil. Carefully and accurately measure 8 ounces of the hot water. Add Va teaspoon of salt to the water, and let the mixture cool to room temperature. For a larger quantity, use 4 teaspoons of salt to 1 gallon of water. Be sure to measure accurately; too much or
too little salt can damage the mucus-producing cells and hair cells in the nose. Congratulations, you have successfully made normal saline that has no preservatives.

Some people like to irrigate with room-temperature saline, others like warm saline, and others like saline that is cool or slightly below room temperature. Try all three and see which makes you feel best. Remember that you should not put saline that is too hot or too cold into your nose and sinuses, because you can burn or damage the inside of your nose.

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