Neti Pot, Don’t Fail Me Now!

**This was originally posted last year, but since I’m doing my best to not get sick, I thought it was appropriate for a re-post**


On Wednesday, I was innocently walking around campus, enjoying the sun, the breeze and my grande iced skinny vanilla latte that I had just purchased to celebrate the end of classes. As I took a deep sip of the cold deliciousness, I stumbled. It was so faint that I wondered if I imagined it, but upon taking another sip, I knew that it was real. There was definitely a faint pain in the back of my throat.

My first thought was this: NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.

This was absolutely not the time to get sick. I had grades to submit, meetings to attend, research to get done, miles to run. Of course, a cold isn’t the end of the world by any stretch of the imagination, but that one brief tickle in my throat could have turned into anything from a 24-hour bug to the full-blown flu, which I only seem to get in the summer.

It was time to take evasive actions. So, I went to my traditional tactics for nipping the sickness in the bud.

1. Denial. Okay, so this isn’t really an evasive maneuver, but I do believe in the mind over matter aspect of health, so my mantra for the day was, “I am well. I am strong. I am not getting a damn cold.” Eloquent, don’t you think?

2. Chamomile tea. In my family, Chamomile tea is used to treat, well, everything. In its brewed form, it’s good for upset stomachs, sore throats, settling nerves, gas…and once, my mom flushed my eye with it on the 2nd day of 8th grade when I was sent home with a really irritated eyeball. Oh, and then there was the time when I got my first eyebrow wax in 1999 and had an allergic reaction to the wax. I woke up (on the day that I was to fly to Paris for my summer of study abroad) with two eyes that were swollen shut. I panicked, but my mom calmly wet two Chamomile tea bags and laid them on my eyes like a cold compress. And it in fact did reduce the swelling. So you see, how could I not go straight for the Chamomile – it’s a wonder herb!

3. Neti pot. The neti pot was added to my arsenal during my pregnancy with Parker since I wasn’t allowed to take any medication when I got sick. I’ll be honest with you, the first time that my doctor suggested the neti pot, I was very skeptical.

If you’ve never heard of a neti pot, it’s that little tea pot looking thing at the top of this post. That’s my lovely purple neti pot, but they come in all shapes and sizes (in the event that you’re particular about what you stick up your nose). Neti pots are used to treat allergies, sinus issues and any type of congestion. When I woke up this morning and noticed that my sore throat had evolved to a stuffed nose, I knew that I needed to go straight to the neti pot.

This is how the neti pot works: you fill it with warm water and dissolve a 1/2 teaspoon of salt in it – effectively making a saline solution. Then, you tilt your head to the side so it’s at a 45 degree angle and you insert the spout into one nostril. You don’t need to shove it in there, just push it far enough so that no water comes out of the nostril that contains the spout. Are you grossed out yet?? Then, slowly tip the neti pot until you’re certain that water is entering your nasal cavity (breathe through your mouth).

If you’re not very congested, water will very shortly exit your other nostril. If you are congested, just wait. It will eventually flush out whatever is in there. Use half of the water for flushing your sinus cavity in one direction, then switch sides and flush it using the other nostril. It may take about 15 minutes if you’re extremely congested.

Now here’s the rundown on the neti pot:

The Good: It works! Do this twice to three times a day and you will definitely breathe easier. It will help clear up your congestion faster and it’s completely homeopathic – so no drug side effects. The Irishman always suffers from allergies and he uses the neti pot daily. In fact, since he started using the neti pot, he no longer needs to take his allergy meds. Interesting, no?

The Bad: Initially, it will feel like you got water up your nose…because you did. This was what made me apprehensive. I mean, as a swimmer, I snorted enough pool water to know that burning nostril feeling. This is not nearly as bad as that, but it does feel a little weird. Let’s put it this way, I would liken using the neti pot to my decision to get an epidural. Prior to my labor with Parker, my opinion on consenting to an epidural was a resounding, “Hell no, you aren’t sticking a needle in my spine.” And then I experienced 12 hours of hard labor. Of back labor. Of whimpering. And I changed my tune in a jiffy because the epidural itself was nothing compared to the pitocin-induced cramps that were going on. The neti pot is the same way – when I’m breathing easily and 100% healthy, it seems a bit unsavory. When I’m congested and uncomfortable – bring it on.

The Ugly. The stuff that’s clogging your nose will come out…into your bathroom sink…and it’s gross. (I hope no one is reading this during their lunch break). I don’t recommend that you do this with any spectators or on a first date. I’m just saying…

Oh and of course, I’m sure you can YouTube “neti pot” to witness it if my explanation was lacking…but enter at your own risk. So there you have it. Throw in 10 hours of sleep and hopefully I’ll be back to my normal manic self in no time.


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