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Monday, July 21, 2008

gross, but awesome.

for the past week i've battled a sinus infection.
too stubborn to go to the doctor even though i've had gross yellow snot...i just dont want to take an antibiotic this late in the pregnancy.

a friend suggested a neti pot...then i thought i remembered that i had something in our first aid cabinet that would do the same thing...

and i am in love. this is totally and completely gross; but i found a review of it on and i swear by everything the reviewer says...

if you struggle with a stuffy nose and lots of congestion...(when i get one of Jordan's colds it almost always turns into a nasty sinus infection)...i highly RECOMMEND THIS!
it got so bad last night my teeth were hurting from the pressure.
i used this kit this morning and feel instant relief! can't wait to show asah when he gets home. :)

you can even do it daily just to keep the infections away.

it's a wonderful alternative to OTC meds!

here's the review; warning: it's gross!

More than you ever wanted to know about my mucous.
Written: Nov 02 '05 (Updated Nov 04 '05)

Product Rating:

Pros: Relieves congestion. May even help to prevent respiratory infections. Cheap.

Cons: Feels disgusting.

The Bottom Line: An enema-- for your nose.


Ayr Sinus Rinse Kit - Saline Sinus Wash

There's no better or more articulate way to say this: sinus infections suck. They hurt. They make life miserable. They make it hard to sleep, as you roll back and forth to try to drain your snot, which you can't remove with a simple blow of the nose, from one side of your head to the other. Antibiotics are enough to cure most of them, but when they recur frequently, or aren't treated properly, some patients require surgery. Thanks to a report on NPR (National Public Radio) a few weeks ago, I've made it through two colds without a single sinus infection for the first time in a decade.


So what's the miracle cure? It isn't antibiotics, surgery, Flonase, or any type of medicine. It isn't vitamins, echinacea, vegan muffins, or any other snake oil. The miracle is a simple molecule, composed of two hydrogen atoms and one atom of oxygen: water. Mix eight ounces of warm water with 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of plain table salt, squirt it up one nostril, let it drip out the other, and voila! Since plain water can burn when you get it in your sinuses, buffer the water with 1/4 teaspoon of plain baking soda.

According to NPR, several recent studies have supported this technique's effectiveness at relieving sinus problems. There are a few reasons why it works:

1. It literally loosens and flushes mucous from your nose.
2. It washes away irritants that may be up to no good in your nose and sinuses.
3. It stimulates the motion of cilia in your nose, which makes them more effective at getting rid of dirt, allergens, and microorganisms.

It makes sense, but there are a few problems with washing out your sinuses. The most pressing is gravity. Since your nostrils point down, you need to find a way to get the water into your nose with enough force to get it up into your sinuses, but not so much force that it's uncomfortable. The NPR report cited two ways to do this.

1. A Nasal Irrigator is a machine that squirts pulsing water into your nose. These are available online through stores like for about $90. Ouch.
2. A Neti Pot, which has been used by Yoga enthusiasts for centuries, is sort of like a little tea kettle. You tilt your head at an angle, pour water up your higher nostril, and let it fall out the lower nostril. This is hard to get used to.

I fashioned my own technique, using an oral syringe (the kind you use to feed liquid medicine to an infant) to squirt the salt water up one nostril while it drips out the other. This is low-tech and low-cost, and it works, but it has the Neti pot's main disadvantage: you have to hold your head at an awkward angle.

The nice folks at BF Ascher have devised an alternative that's cheap, simple, and absolutely brilliant. Their Ayr Sinus Saline Rinse Kit is a dream-come-true for anyone who suffers from sinus troubles.

Ayr Sinus Saline Rinse Kit
The Ayr Sinus Saline Rinse Kit has two basic ingredients: The squirt bottle and fifty saline mix packets.

The squirt bottle consists of three parts: a soft plastic bottle, a sport-top, and a hard plastic straw. The straw fits into the inside of the top, and extends almost to the bottom of the bottle. This is brilliant because it allows you to irrigate your sinuses while holding your head completely upright. Be sure your head is over the sink, though, or you'll drip saltwater (and snot) all over your mouth, shirt, and floor. Trust me-- it happens, and it's nasty.

The saline mix packets contain a small amount of pre-mixed salt and sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda. If you don't want to measure these on your own, the packets are very convenient.

Using the Ayr Sinus Rinse Kit
Okay boys and girls, the fun begins. For starters, blow your nose to clear out anything that's already loose in there.

• Begin with filtered or distilled water. Heat it until it's slightly warmer than body temperature; maybe 100-110 degrees or so. I never use a thermometer; I just squirt it on my wrist as you'd do with baby formula.

• Fill the squirt bottle with six ounces of the water, add a packet of saline mix, cover, and shake until it's mixed. Do not be tempted to fill the bottle any higher; if you use more than 6 ounces of water, the stuff in the packet won't be enough to buffer the water, and it may sting a little.

• Lean your face so that your nostrils are above the sink, not your shirt.

• Put the top of the bottle so that it forms a light seal against one nostril.

• Squirt in a steady stream. Let the water spill out your other nostril. Then do the other side. I usually do each nostril twice, or a total of four squirts with 6 ounces of water.

• Blow your nose. Lots will come out. Blow again.

A few of words of caution
1. As with any squirt bottle, this one will get harder to squirt as a vacuum forms. If it's too hard to squirt, pull it out of your nose, let the air back into the bottle, and squirt again.
2. As you get to the bottom of the bottle, you'll get a few big air bubbles up your nose. It's startling the first time, but once you get used to it, it's just hilarious.
3. No matter how carefully you do this, it will feel awful the first time. It goes against every biological reflex we have to squirt water up our noses. No matter how much you hate it, do it again. Even if you were traumatized as a kid by a nose full of swimming pool water, you'll get past the terror of it quickly.
4. Keep tissues handy. Your nose may leak on and off for a few minutes.

There are so many adjectives I could use to describe the process-- effective, uncomfortable, gross, and messy are the obvious ones. Here's one you might not think of, though-- hilarious. It feels funny. It looks funny. The whole thing is completely ridiculous. I'm not kidding. The first time my husband tried it, he laughed so hard that he nearly choked on salt water.

Price and Availability
The Ayr Saline Rinse Kit sells for about $10, and it's hellishly hard to find. I bought one at a Rite-Aid in the middle of nowhere, and found a couple more at Fred Meyer this morning on sale for $8. The refills are easy enough to find online, but not the starter kits, which contain the bottles. I found once seller on ebay who has a hundred new, unopened starter kits available for about $7 each; I bought eight. That's right, eight. If I love you, you're getting an Ayr Sinus Rinse Kit for Christmas.

Do I really need this?
If you want to try nasal irrigation, there's no better delivery system than the Ayr Sinus Rinse Kit's squirt bottle. It's cheap, you can hold your head upright, and then toss bottle's parts into the dishwasher.

The saline mix packets are another story. They're convenient, and refills are available in boxes of 100 for $10, but it's very easy and cheap to use your own salt and baking soda. For less than a dollar, you can buy enough of these ingredients for hundreds of doses. Another problem with the mix packets is that you can't adjust the dose. I prefer a slightly more alkaline solution, so I add a little extra baking soda to the mix. I'll never buy refill packets; I make my own solution at home, and save the packets in the starter kit for when we travel.

Mucous is a touchy subject. If you have sinus problems but you're horrified by this solution, consider this: you can't escape your snot. You can either leave it to fester in your sinuses as a breeding ground for microscopic monsters, or let it flow out your nose and down the drain.

I highly recommend the drain...



Blogger Jenny said...

I used to get sinus infections about twice a year--really bad ones which make me be able to identify with the gross kinds of awful neon yellow snot you're talking about. I started using a nasal saline rinse several times a day (it's not as intense as the one you're talking about) and haven't had a sinus infection in YEARS! I bet what you use is even better! Kudos!

7/21/2008 10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tara. So sorry you feel so lousy. I've got a neti pot and use it twice daily when i have a cold, and weekly otherwise. Every since my sinus surgery (which was hell on earth and unsuccessful I might add) i've sworn by these nasal "baths". Sure helps. Hope you feel better soon. Love ya. Joy

7/22/2008 7:57 AM  
Blogger MC Hammer and DJ Jazzy Jeff said...

Wow...that was a tough blog to get almost made me a little queasy! :) I am so thankful that you found something that made you feel better!! OH- MY exact due date is August 28th and i promise that we don't have a name! We are not keeping it a secret..we just don't know!! Love ya! MC <>< PS- We are so thankful that little Jaxon had a great report on Friday! YIPEEE!!!

7/22/2008 4:58 PM  
Blogger Josh & Donna said...

i use a neti pot!!

7/24/2008 9:22 AM  
Blogger O'Behave said...

I use a neti pot too, and when my allergies get really bad in the was amazingly well!

7/24/2008 4:04 PM  

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