If you suffer from sinus problems or nasal allergies, using a saline (salt water) nasal wash (lavage) or saline nasal sprays should provide you relief. Nasal washes and sprays clear out allergens, mucus and secretions from your sinus passages. Such irritants can lead to stuffiness, congestion and even infection. When saline washes are used regularly, they will thin the mucus, decrease postnasal drip and cleanse your nasal passages of bacteria. Saline sprays keep the cilia (small hairs) in your nose healthy. The cilia humidify the air flowing into your lungs, trap bacteria, and help your sense of smell. You can purchase nasal saline from any drug store, but you can also make your own solution at home.
To make your homemade nasal saline solution, mix 2 to 3 tsp of non--iodised salt and 1 tsp baking soda to 1 pint distilled or filtered water. Kosher salt is best because it is pure and has no additives. Store the solution at room temperature.
Before using the solution in your sinuses, mix it to make sure all the salt is dissolved. If the solution is too salty and stings when you use it, add more distilled water to the solution. It should be about the same concentration as your tears. The solution should be warmed to normal body temperature or a little warmer. If the water is too cool, it will cause your sinuses to swell and if it's too hot, you can burn the sensitive lining of your nose and sinuses.
To do a nasal wash, pour about 1/2 cup of the solution into a bulb syringe, a plastic spray bottle (like the kind that you find with store-bought nasal solution) or a neti pot. A neti pot is a small ceramic teapot-like container available online or in health food stores. Lean over a sink with your head forward and tilted to the side. Pour the solution into one nostril so it aims toward the back of your sinuses. The saline will flow into your nasal passages and should run out the other nostril. Some will spill down the back of your throat. Follow the same procedure with your other nostril. If the solution is too salty, add less salt the next time.
If you prefer to use a saline spray instead, the same saline solution can be used in a spray bottle. Using a nasal spray is easy. It will clean out your sinuses and moisturise your nasal passages. Simply put the tip of your spray bottle or bulb syringe filled with saline inside your nostril and spray. Let the spray enter your nasal passages and then blow out the residue into a tissue. Do this in each nostril.
If you use prescription nasal sprays, doctors suggest you use a nasal wash or spray before hand to remove mucus in the nasal passages. If you're uncomfortable or nervous about performing a nasal wash at home, ask your doctor to show you how it's done.