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To clear sinuses, some take up ancient practice of nasal rinsing
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BY KERRI SCALES
Ren Fields' allergies were so bad she was spending $60 to $70 a month on three different medications.
And then she remembered the practice of nasal rinsing. Now, with the combination of salt water and a nasal-clearing Neti pot, Fields is allergy free for the low price of $18.
"I slowly started getting all of these allergies and was on all sorts of medication," said Fields, director of the Fredericksburg Healing Arts & Yoga Center. "Then I thought, 'Wait a minute, I remember the Neti pot.'"
Also referred to as nasal washing or nasal irrigation, nasal rinsing is a practice that has been used by yoga practitioners for thousands of years. It involves pouring or squirting a salty solution into one nostril in such a way that it flows out of the other nostril. The Neti pot is just one of several products designed to help patients do that.
Some people find the mere idea of it off-putting. Squirting a watery solution into one nostril, and feeling it drain out the other, may seem unappealing. But the practice is recommended by both alternative and mainstream health practitioners, and many people who do it swear by it.
"If it's allergy season, I always suggest that it is a very clean, cheap and easy way to prevent yourself from getting sick," Fields said.
Nasal rinsing can draw water from the lining of the nose, reducing the swelling common during sinus infections. It can also thin out mucus that blocks nasal passages and flush out allergens like dust or pollen, reducing reactions. And, it isn't addictive like some over-the-counter nasal sprays can be.
Dr. Seth Craig, of the Allergy and Asthma Center of Fredericksburg, recommends that his patients try nasal rinsing once a day because of its ability to soothe the nose and help reduce the risk of sinus infections.
He said patients who try nasal rinsing tend to like it, though some patients struggle to feel comfortable with it.
"Some people just have an aversion to putting anything in their nose," Craig explained.
But he said the practice is safe for patients--except those who have had nasal surgery. Craig recommends that those patients consult a ear, nose and throat specialist before trying the rinse.