After suffering through 10 years of sinus infections (and their accompanying face pain, clogged passages, and two to three rounds of antibiotics per infection), I was ready to try anythingeven the all-natural neti pot that my doctor recommended. Instructions: Fill with warm water and add a smidgen of salt, then tilt head with left nostril over sink and pour mixture into right nostril; water mixture and a lot of snot will exit through the left side.
I soon started watering my nose like it was a geraniumand coughing like an old man. But after a few days, I was clearing out congestion before it had a chance to set up camp in my sinuses.
Docs are on board with nasal irrigation: University of Michigan researchers have found that its much more effective than saline sprays for limiting the severity and frequency of sinus problems. However, docs warn that making a habit of nasal rinsing when youre healthy might make you more vulnerable to infections.
Since I got my neti, I havent had a single sinus infection or even a bad cold. Downsides? A little after-use drainage (i.e., nose rain). But blowing your nose after each treatment limits sudden downpours.
This article was first published in Health magazine, September 2008.