DRHOOK- Neti Pot: Give your nose a saline douche

the handsome doctor John Hong

Neti Pots sold out for weeks after Dr. Oz on Oprah showed the world how using them helps allergies. (Grr, what does Dr. Oz have that I don't– well, besides Oprah Winfrey?)

 Need a nasal douche for your allergies?

 My doctor father had me doing nasal douches way before America caught onto the Neti Pot. In fact, a fan of mine just sent me her late husband's glass nasal douche, which is very touching. 

 Allergic rhinitis, aka allergies, affects one in three American adults and almost half of U.S. kids. Right now, I'm seeing a lot of people sneezing and complaining about their itchy eyes. (Not a good scene when your server at the restaurant is spewing sputum all over your escargot. Is that a snail or a snot?) 

A stuffy, runny nose makes a person honk like an elephant. 

Billy Joel wrote a song, "Pressure," and in allergic rhinitis the sinus cavities can become full of pressure. 

Neti Pot? Felix Unger on The Odd Couple used nose drops of saline while walking across the road. Saline is salt water. It flushes out the bad boys that make allergic noses go haywire with mucus, congestion, and irritation. 

 Sinus cavities aren't designed to drain well when we're upright or lying on our back. They drain best with our face pointed to the ground. So using a Neti Pot over the sink helps wash out the "cavemen" in the sinus cavities.

 Should give away my secret Neti Pot recipe? (In the South, women always leave out one important ingredient when sharing a recipe so your pound cake never tastes as good as theirs.) 

Well, this is what I do with my own Neti Pot, which I use once or twice a day. First, I bought it at Whole Foods for $16. It's ceramic, so it's easy to clean and looks nice. It holds eight ounces of water. 

 Now, depending on how bad my allergies are, I vary the amount of table salt and baking soda. For daily use, I add one-half teaspoon of salt and one-half teaspoon of baking soda. On bad days, I use one teaspoon of each, but it stings more. I pour in lukewarm water and stir. I put my head over the kitchen sink (yes, the kitchen!) with my face down and tilted to the left, and then I put the Neti Pot spout into my right nostril, pour, and voila! 

 Yes, it feels like I jumped into the ocean and water went up my nose. However, you get used to it. The water goes into the right nostril and out the left nostril. When the Neti Pot is about half empty, I stop and let the water drain out. I turn my head right to left, left to right to swish the saline in my sinuses. Oh, so good! (Do I sound like Mr. Food?)

 Then I turn my head to the right and stick the Neti Pot spout into my left nostril to repeat the same magic. Some patients have told me the water doesn't drain in one direction– that could be due to structural problems (like a deviated septum) or because of severe congestion. 

 No, I have no stock in Neti Pots, though some friends have said I should design my own to sell. I explained the Neti Pot on NBC29 news, and it is one of my most popular videos. www.drjohnhong.com/blog/2009/netipot-for-allergies/ If I ever do design one, I'll make it out of crystal, maybe Mikasa. 

Would I then be known as Dr. Neti Snot?


Dr. Hook cracks a joke or two, but he's a renowned physician with a local practice and an interesting website, drjohnhong.com. Email him with your questions.