Cold and flu season is in full effect, and everyone is experiencing the same symptoms: sore throat, sinus congestion, runny nose, headache, sneezing and coughing. What many people fail to realize is that all of these symptoms come from the same source: sinus irritation, swelling and drainage. There is one way to receive relief from these symptoms: a saline sinus rinse

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What is a Saline Sinus Rinse?

A saline sinus rinse is a form of nasal irrigation that uses a saline solution and a squeeze bottle to flush out the nose and sinus cavity. The rinse flushes out mucus and infection, removes nasal irritants, and inhibits bacteria growth. It also restores moisture and reduces inflammation of the mucus membranes, which relieves many of the symptoms of sinus pain, even when drainage is not present.

How is a Saline Sinus Rinse Performed?

A sinus rinse is performed by mixing saline powder with distilled water in a bottle designed to squirt saline up one nostril of the nose. The solution goes up one side of the nose, into the sinus cavity, and drains out the opposite open nostril. Because of the liquid and mucus flushing out of the opposite nostril at will, it is best performed while leaning over a sink.

Where Can You Purchase Sinus Rinse Kits?

The two most common brands of sinus rinse kits on the market are made by NeilMed and Ayr, but there are now several generic brands also available.  These kits can be purchases in most pharmacies. They come with a bottle and several packets of powder to mix your own saline solution with distilled water. You can purchase additional packets of dry saline mix when you use up your starter kit. The problem is those packets can get expensive, and they create a lot of waste from the additional packaging. As it turns out, the saline powder can easily be made at home with iodine-free salt and baking soda. It’s a simple mixture that can be stored in a mason jar.

DIY Sinus Rinse Recipe

1 c. Iodine-Free Salt
1 c. Baking Soda
8 oz. Distilled Water

In a food processor, mix ingredients together for about 1 minute to blend well. Store in an airtight container. When you’re ready to make a saline solution, mix 1/2 tsp of mix with 8 oz of distilled water. If you do not have distilled water, you can boil water and cool it before use, but be sure that it is completely cooled to prevent burning the inside of your nose. I find that it’s just easier to keep a bottle of distilled water handy.

Lean over the sink while you perform your sinus rinse. When you flush your nostrils, the saline solution will go up one nostril and come out the other. Some of the solution may also come out of your mouth, so I recommend keeping your mouth open. Place the tip of the bottle up one nostril and squeeze the liquid into your sinuses. Do not try to force too much liquid at once to prevent hurting your eardrums. It will be a strange sensation the first time, but it should not burn. If it does, then your salt/baking soda/water ratio is off.

Flush 8 oz of solution up each nostril. When you’re finished, there will still be some solution in your sinuses.  It will drain with time, but you may find it draining at very inconvenient times (like when you’re bent over a basket of clean laundry). If you want to blow out some of the saline, do so very gently and do not block one nostril to blow out the other. You will almost certainly damage an ear drum and cause yourself a lot of pain.

Make sure you sanitize your bottle or syringe after each use to prevent bacteria growth. You can do so by running it in the dishwasher or placing it in boiling water for a few seconds. Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags are an easy way to sanitize bottles in the microwave. The bags are designed for baby products, but they’ll work for anything that will fit in the bag.

Need an extra little kick to help your sinuses drain? Check out this DIY Decongestant Recipe from Healing Harvest Homestead.

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