Sunday, May 1, 2011

I Don't Think You're Ready for This Neti

Every year, all the world's oak trees decide to release millions of evil minions called "pollen" who are bent upon killing me.  Their stealthy plan of attack starts out with an innocent little sinus infection, which gradually spreads to include conjunctivitis, an ear infection, a sore throat, and bronchitis, until finally, I wake up one day looking like this: 

And that's usually when I drag myself to the doctor.

People have been trying to convince me for ages that a neti pot will solve all my problems.  However, I was reluctant to embrace this revelation because I knew it involved pouring water into one of your nostrils and letting it run out the other side.  How could that not be unpleasant?  What if you did it wrong and got water in your brain or something?  Sure, plenty of people use neti pots with no problem, but people do lots of things that look easy but almost result in my death or dismemberment when I try them, like riding a jet ski or feeding bread crumbs to a duck.

But this year, I finally worked up the courage to try a neti pot because my best friend told me I should try it, which is much more effective than anyone else telling me to try it, like, say, my doctor.

The neti pot instructions sound so easy, almost TOO easy, like the neti pot is flagrantly waving its simplicity in your face.

Step 1.  Please wash your hands and rinse the device.  (Check!  I even washed it with soap and hot water!)  Fill the NASALFLO ® Neti Pot with 8 oz. of warm distilled, filtered or previously boiled water.  You may warm the water in a microwave, but we recommend that you warm it in increments of five to ten seconds to avoid over-heating, damage to the device or scalding your nasal passage. 

Okay, starting to sound a little complicated and scary, but I'll just fill it with warm water from the sink.  Check?

Step 2.  Cut the SINUS RINSE (™) mixture packet at the corner and pour contents into the pot.  Tighten the lid on the device securely.  (It would really sound less sinister if they stopped calling it "the device.")  Place one finger over the hole of the cap and shake the device gently to dissolve the mixture.


Step 3.  Standing in front of a sink, bend forward to your comfort level and tilt your head to one side.  Keeping your mouth open, and without holding your breath, apply the tip of the device snugly against your nasal passage and ALLOW THE SOLUTION TO GENTLY FLOW until the solution starts draining from the opposite nasal passage.  Use roughly half the solution in the neti pot (4 oz.).  It should not enter your mouth unless you are tilting your head backwards.  To adjust or stop the flow, you may place your finger over the hole of the cap.  Do not swallow the solution; however, there is no harm if you do so accidentally.

Allow the solution to gently flow?  That's all you've got for me?  Those big red letters are making me pretty nervous.  And define "tilt" in this situation.  Are we talking a 45 degree angle?  A 90 degree angle?  Should I lean my head all the way forward, or should I lean it to the side a little?  I still did not feel adequately prepared to use this neti pot.  I was completely convinced that if I did not do this according to a set of precise specifications, something would go terribly wrong and I would die.

There was, however, a photo demonstrating what this whole process should look like.  It consisted of a moderately attractive woman smiling calmly with a tea pot spout sticking up one of her nostrils and a steady stream of clear fluid pouring out the other.

Eventually, I convinced myself that surely there would be some kind of warning if there were any chance of something really, really bad happening, and that I could always just sue somebody if something really, really bad did happen, and I decided to show that neti pot who was boss.

I got the neti pot to work by rolling my head around a la The Exorcist until it did its thing.  The fact that I managed to do it correctly probably means it's not very hard.  I was surprised that I actually didn't feel the fluid in my nasal passage at all.  It really wasn't so bad.  But I realized, as I stood over my kitchen sink with a plastic tea pot up my nose and a trickle of half-snot, half-saline solution coming out my left nostril as well as my throat, that I probably didn't look much like the neti pot model.  As a matter of fact, I really felt as though I had hit rock bottom in life.

There was the upshot of finally being able to breath through my nose afterward.  That was kind of nice.  And I was super proud of myself for managing to use a neti pot without dying. 

I would definitely recommend this to anyone else with sinus problems.  My only advice is, just accept from the beginning that you'll never look like the neti pot model.


  1. I'm completely afraid to use a neti pot myself, so this was hilarious.

  2. I'm convinced if I can figure it out, anyone can. I also think there must not be much that can go wrong, because if there were, it probably would've happened to me. So you'd probably be safe. :)

  3. I used Netipot and its very easy to use without any harmless effect.It is very effective for nasal problems.

  4. I actually was looking for instructions to my netipot, and was captured by the hilarious title. Double win.

  5. Yay! I love double wins. I kind of feel like I'm luring innocent neti pot users into reading my blog now. But as long as you like it I guess we're good!

  6. I laughed so hard I cried when I read this! I just discovered your blog today, and have been looking at the older posts. This was hilarious. Especially the picture with the ambulance. I am still chuckling over that.

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