Dear Sybil, My allergies are the worst this Spring season! Pollen is working my last nerve, and I’m sick of taking all the drugs that come over the counter or from the allergist, (which I consider even worse). I think I read that you told a friend about nasal rinses, but the idea scares me…. Can you put my mind and nose at rest??....Please?? …rhymes with SNEEZE! Sincerely, Ronny.
Dear Runny…er, RONNY! Yes, I have told friends about nasal rinses before, and although it sounds gross to many people, pumping some saline into your nose and flushing out your face can not only be a wonderful sensation, it can also be a life-changing decision too! Most of us remember how perfectly awful it was as children to accidentally breathe in the water at the swimming pool. Not only was it regular tap water, it was heavily chlorinated on top of it all! The burning was terrible, and it turns most people away from ever considering nasal rinses, but the saline water that you either prepare yourself or buy ready mixed in sterile containers at the drug store is exactly the same saline solution that your body is made up of…. about 60% of it!!! And it’s approximately a 0.9% solution, so when you spray it into your sinuses, it’s no more uncomfortable than your tears when you cry. A dear friend of mine asked about rinses, and when I explained the concept to him, he remembered that when he was child at the ocean and got seawater up his nose it wasn’t unpleasant at all…. because the ocean is much more like our own body chemistry than chlorinated pool water… Anyway, back to why a nasal rinse can be so helpful during cold and allergy seasons…. Your sinuses are designed to produce a regular protective amount of watery mucus to keep irritants, bacteria, pollen, and dust from lodging and potentially infecting or damaging the sensitive interior tissues inside your face and airways. But sometimes the pollutants are too numerous or toxic for your body to withstand. At that point, the invaders can trigger a cold or a particularly brutal allergic reaction, and your body responds by declaring “war” in the form of massive amounts of mucus to flush away the enemy. We’re told to drink “plenty of fluids” to keep our bodies completely hydrated for the production of water to supply the mucus which we either blow out, cough up, or swallow to be destroyed in our digestive systems…. (gross, yes, but rather ingenious after all these millions of years of evolution!) We now know that instead of using decongestants to dry up our sinuses the way we did in the 1950s, we should use products like Mucinex to increase the flow of protective mucus and force fluids, preferably vitamin enhanced waters to maintain our electrolytes. Supporting our bodies’ natural function is the best way to stay comfortable and get well quickly! And a nasal rinse, preferably in the shower, is a fabulous help. It can unblock the clogged up passageways, clean out all the debris, and even alleviate a bad sinus headache within minutes. A neti pot is easy to buy at the drug store with the right saline solutions, either premixed or available in premeasured envelopes to be mixed with distilled water. I said “distilled water”…NOT tap water or bottled water. Distilled water is pure H20….nothing else!! No minerals, additives, etc. I buy the envelopes, mix up the right amount in an empty shampoo bottle with a nozzle and spray a dose into each nostril twice, blowing out the contents, and repeating once again. The whole process takes just seconds, and I do it in the morning and again at night. Colds are rare for me now, and if one does start to take hold, I can diminish its duration and severity. ….sometimes stopping it dead within an hour of the first scratchy throat or sneezing… Although you can see actors on the Internet demonstrate the method for using a nasal rinse, I’ll tell you quickly that it’s as easy as leaning forward in the shower (or over your bathroom sink, facing the drain, turning your head to one side, and gently squirting the saline into the upper nostril and letting it flow through your sinuses inside your face and out the lower nostril. Turn your head the other way and repeat, Turn again and repeat. Turn again and repeat. Blow gently each time without plugging either nostril so that you don’t blow anything into your ear canals… As you get more comfortable doing the process, you’ll start to experiment with tipping your head this way and that to “clean out all the rooms in your attic” as we nasal-rinse aficionados joke!! I promise you, you’ll feel and see a difference right away….. some of my friends claim that food even tastes better, and I’ve known some smokers who claimed it was easier to give up because they could actually smell what was offensive about cigarette smoking more clearly… You know, my friend Isak Dinesen (yes!...of OUT OF AFRICA fame!) once claimed that "the cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.".... well, she was right, but she left out salt-water nasal rinses! Let me know Ronny, what you think! Spring is running a little late this year, but maybe we can make it a bit more fun for you when she finally waltzes through the front door!!...and you don’t have to hold your nose!!! Xoxoxo!!! Sybil.
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