Springtime is here and with it comes the blooming of flowers, blossoming of trees and the seeding of grasses, all of which are beautiful to see, but can be a nightmare to anyone who suffers from hay fever or other seasonal allergies.
Both my son and my husband suffer terribly with hay fever, their eyes puff up and stream and their noses are constantly stuffy and running at the same time. So every springtime they are both popping the hay fever tablets and using the nasal sprays and eye drops that have been prescribed by the Doctor to help relieve their symptoms.
I hate the fact that rely on so many medicines to get through the spring, my husband always says that his nose feels sore and dry after using the nasal spray for a while. So last year I started looking into other more natural ways of alleviating the symptoms of hay fever and the one that seems to have worked quite well is nasal irrigation, which is basically rinsing out the nostrils using a saline solution. The thought of putting slightly salty water through my nostrils didn’t appeal to me one bit, but as I don’t suffer from hay fever it wasn’t something I would have to endure….But in the cases of my husband and son I thought it was worth them trying!
Rinsing nostrils out with saline helps to wash away any allergens like pollen or dust, helping to minimize hay fever or allergy symptoms. When done regularly nasal irrigation can also help reduce the amount of colds a person gets throughout the year, as the saline rinses out germs and bacteria and the slight saltiness left behind creates a defensive barrier against cold germs.
In the case of my son nasal irrigation is extra useful as for certain reasons he cannot blow his nose, and gets very congested, so regularly rinsing his nose through with saline will help keep mucus build up to a minimum.
How Nasal Irrigation Is Done:
Nasal irrigation is usually done using something called a Neti Pot or a similar shaped vessel designed for rinsing out the nostrils. As my son has co ordination problems too, I knew that the Neti Pot wasn’t ideal for him to use, as you have to hold your head at an angle over a sink and pour the saline solution through one nostril. so that it exists the other. He would probably end up coughing and spluttering!
There is also a bottle with a specially shaped tip that fits nicely into a nostril, that you then have to squeeze to shoot the saline up your nose. Which I didn’t like, as there is very little control of the amount or the speed at which the saline that gets squirted up a nostril. Again I thought my son would end up coughing and spluttering!
After a bit more research I found something called the Neti Syringe that is basically a large syringe with a specially shaped, antibacterial tip, that you place in the nostril and by gently squeezing the plunger you can control the speed at which the saline goes up the nose.
Using a syringe designed to rinse out the nostrils on my son was ideal, as all it meant was that he had to relax whilst I did all the work. Unfortunately it is something my son cannot manage on his own at the moment….But we live in hope that one day he will be able to rinse his own nose out, as well as be able to do the umpteen other things that most of us take for granted, but he finds so difficult!
I bought two of the Neti syringes from a seller on Ebay and they each came with 10 sachets of ready measured salt that I added to distilled water to make up the saline. I now make up the saline solution using pure sea salt and a pinch of sodium bicarbonate as it works out a lot cheaper than buying the made up sachets, although for convenience sake the sachets were nice.
The water used in nasal irrigation must be sterilized to prevent infection, I use distilled water as it doesn’t need boiling if it is used straight from the container, but bottled and tap water must be boiled prior to use.
As I said before I now makeup the saline solution myself, the perfect saline solution is 0.9% saline as this is equal to the salinity in our body, but it doesn’t hurt if it’s slightly stronger or weaker, although a higher concentration of salt make cause irritation, if you find this to be the case, add less salt!
To make saline solution I use:
Approx 1/6 teaspoon pure sea salt without iodine, as iodine can cause irritation.
A tiny amount – less than the salt – of bicarbonate of soda, this is to soften the saline and helps to prevent irritation from the salt. You don’t have to use it if you don’t have it, but it’s cheap and I always have it in my kitchen cupboard, so I use it.
8floz or 250mls sterilized or distilled water.
I put all the above into a glass jug and pop into the microwave for 30-40 seconds, until it is tepid. The give it a stir with the syringe to help dissolve the salt.
How we use the Neti Syringe:
We grab a piece of kitchen roll and traipse to the bath – you could just as easily lean over a sink. My son then leans forward over the bath and I fill the syringe with the saline solution and gently and carefully squirt it up his nose, it works out to roughly 1 1/2 syringes of saline up each nostril. If he is very congested the saline will rinse out any build up of mucus, which has prevented him from getting congested.
How I clean the Neti syringe:
I clean the Neti syringe every time it is used with an antibacterial soap and warm water, and every few days I soak it in a sterilizing solution for half an hour or so. I make up the sterilizing solution by adding 3ml of Milton sterilizing fluid to 500ml of water.
Before I got the sterilizing fluid I put the syringe into a pan of boiling water and simmered it for a few minutes.
Has nasal irrigation helped to relieve hay fever symptoms for my husband and son?
My son has been using nasal irrigation most days since last September and when he had a cold we did it twice a day. It is now well into spring and he has not had any need for the nasal spray, but he has had to start with hay fever tablets although a few weeks later than normal. Normally he has to start taking the tablets around the end of February, as this is when the grasses and wild flowers start to bloom, he probably started taking them a month later than normal. As for the nasal spray he would without a doubt be using it by now, so I am really happy with the outcome for him.
As for my husband, he did try nasal irrigation for a short time, but gave up and now uses the nasal spray, I think he finds rinsing his nose out a pain, but he didn’t start using his nose spray until later than normal and I do believe that if he had stuck with it he would not be taking it now. But what do I know!
Would I recommend nasal irrigation?
Without a doubt!
I think it is worth trying if you suffer with nasal allergies and hay fever or have a problem like my son, who can’t blow his nose. It is not harmful and the dosage of salt is so minimal that it won’t raise blood pressure – just in case you were wondering!
I would recommend that you start using it before the seasonal allergies start kicking in though, don’t wait to get nasty hay fever symptoms then start using nasal irrigation hoping for a miracle cure…..It’s good, but not that good!
Have you got any natural hay fever remedies that you could share with us?
Copyright © 2014 Debbie Roberts
© 2014, Debbie. All rights reserved.