Last Modified on Jul 23, 2015
When it comes to clearing the sinuses, the first remedy that comes to most people's minds is likely not a saline rinse. The triggered mental picture of ingesting saltwater through the nose likely does not conjure up images of cleansed sinuses and relief; however, the treatment is particularly effective. Plus, a saline rinse is a much safer option than over-the-counter remedies.
The Problem with OTC Decongestants
When nasal pressure and congestion start, most people are tempted to head straight to the drugstore to pick up "the good stuff," or in other words, a nasal decongestant. In these cases, though, individuals are likely doing more harm than good. While decongestants appear to relieve congestion, really all the medication is doing is drying out the body -- a practice with a negative compounding effect. Additionally, as the body is continuously exposed to conventional treatments, it becomes immune to many treatments, making even effective options less potent.
A More Effective Option - Saline Rinse
A better, safer option compared to an over-the-counter decongestant is a saline rinse. A saline rinse uses a saline solution or mixture of water and salt to clear the nasal passages. The process promotes healing of a variety of conditions including the common cold, sinus infection, and allergies.
How saline works:
A saline rinse is one of the most effective ways to cleanse the nasal passages to relieve congestion and prevent mucous buildup. The balanced mixture of water to salt restores balance in the nasal passages via osmosis. Likewise, the salt has a cleansing effect that helps reduce swelling, which allows mucous to drain more effectively.
How to Use a Saline Rinse:
Using a saline rinse is relatively easy. An appropriate rinse is comprised of 1/2 teaspoon sea salt mixed into 1 cup of warm water. After the salt has dissolved in the water, it can be poured into a nasal spray bottle or neti pot. To complete the rinse, lean over the sink and insert the nozzle into the nose, squeezing to allow the mixture to enter the nose. Allow the rinse to travel through the nasal passages and exit the throat. Complete the rinse as often as needed, but wait at least 30 minutes between each rinse.
Potential Side Effects
While a saline rinse is an effective treatment, even this home remedy is not without potential side effects.
If the rinse is too concentrated, the salt may cause nasal irritation and dryness. Be sure to use an appropriate solution as suggested above.
Sinus infections are among the most common and uncomfortable health conditions; however, effective remedies can diminish recovering time and increase overall health. A saline rinse is one of the most effective ways to clear a sinus infection and prevent further development of infections and illness.
Continue reading below for over 50 reviews from Earth Clinic readers and tell us what you think!
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Is it true that saline rinse for clearing sinuses causes a puffy face because of salt? I've heard that salt leads to puffiness in the body.....
[YEA] I have used a saline rinse daily for years and it works like a charm. Before I started on my daily ritual, I got sinus infections one after another. It was torture. Happily, I have had no sinus infections in 3 years! I use 1 teaspoon of sea salt in my saline bottle mixed with distilled warm water. Once a week I add a dash of hydrogen peroxide.
Re: Sinus pain with smoke smell... I have been smelling smoke for a month or so with facial, head and ear pain. Been using neti pot with saline solution, dr sending me for a cat scan tomorrow. Any suggestions? Thanks.
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Replied by Moosic
[YEA] Saw three ENT doctor all had different opinions about sinus infection two felt like no big deal "everyone has some type of bacteria, or ecoli or fungus in their nose it is deep in the nasal cavity that they worry abyut" one gave me antibiotic Clindamycin for 30 days. anyhow I just was tired of it! I went to Chinese Medicine who gave me herbs and it was suggested 1/4 tsp sea salt neti pot or nasal spray irrigation 4-5 times a day so I tried it it was easy, and it worked plus sea salt was once used for it's antibiotice type properties.
[YEA] Like everyone else on this site, I have really struggled with my sinuses. I found this site about 3 years ago and it has made a huge difference for me.
I started out by drinking ACV and it does work to relieve the pressure. I still use it from time to time during allergy season when I feel the pressure coming on.
For those of you who can't stand the taste, I simply put a shotglass full of ACV (2 - 3 ounces) into 4 or 5 ounces of dark purple grape juice. The grape juice kills most of the bad taste and allows it to go down quickly.
I found that ACV isn't a fix all. An allergist suggested that I look into 'nasal lavage' - which is basically doing a saline rinse. It sounds gross, but by regularly flushing out your sinuses you get rid of all of the pollen, dander, dust, etc that causes sinus problems to begin with.
I am very cheap, so here is my solution. I kept an empty dishwashing soap bottle (dawn, polmolive, etc). I fill it with warm tap water (about body temperature). I pour in some table salt and shake.
Either in the shower or over the sink, tilt your head to one side and squirt the water into the higher nostril. If your sinuses are fairly clear, the water should pour out of the lower nostril (along with all kinds of gunk). If your sinuses are blocked, the water will go in and may not immediately come out of the other nostril. That's ok. The warm water will loosen up much of the crud in there. Have some tissue paper handy and blow to get rid of the water and the gunk.
Tilt your head to the other side and repeat to clear out the other side. You may need to do it a couple of times in each nostril to get stuff really moving. You may also need to blow your nose several times over the course of the next few hours as the stuff continues to work loose.
This will clear a lot of what's in there initially. The trick is to do it regularly (every day during allergy season) so that it gets the junk out before you have sinus issues. I don't do it as religiously as before, but even so, I breathe better than ever and I haven't been sick in 2plus years. I hope that this helps - it's been a Godsend for me.
Replied by Sunny
Replied by Karen
Randolph, New Jersey Usa
[YEA] Here is a saline rinse you can do anytime for a sinus infection with no special equipment.
I put together the following kit for my bathroom. You can use whatever you have. The idea is to make the solution the same every time, not too strong. You can adjust the salt level to whatever works best for you:
1. Baking soda in a small rubbermaid container.
2. Salt in a small container (not the same container as the baking soda).
3. 4 oz drinking glass (plastic or glass).
4. 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon (or a spoon the holds about 1/2 of a teaspoon).
WHEN TO DO THE RINSE
I do the sinus rinse before bed and then after I first get up. It's amazing how much mucus this clears out in your sinuses.
MAKING THE SOLUTION
I run the tap to get hot water (don't do a sinus rinse with cold water)! Fill a 4 oz glass with water. Put in 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pinch of baking soda. Stir.
DOING THE SINUS RINSE
Deep breath a few time to get oxygen levels up before "snorting" the solution. Hold your left sinus shut with your finger. Put the glass to your nose against you right sinus. Bending over the sink slightly so you don't get wet. Breath in with your right sinus to create a vacuum and draw the salt water into you right sinus. Stop when it is pulled into the back of your throat! Put the glass down. Blow and spit out all the mucus and water out of your nose and back of your throat. Switch sides and do the same procedure for the left sinus. Do this twice on each side or until all the mucus is gone. You probably will have to blow your nose a few times to stop it dripping during the process or when you are done.
[YEA] I just want to say that whilst traveling in China, without a neti pot or any kind of nasal spray or lavage equipment and no access to any pharmacy or medical clinic at the time, I successfully used a sterilised travel bottle, normally used as cabin bag 100ml toiletry bottle (like a little squirt bottle), as a make-shift saline rinse bottle.
I was suffering terribly with an acute case of sinusitis with heavy symptoms worsening day by day. I couldn't move I was in such pain in my head and body. I knew instinctively that I needed to do a rinse of some kind but had never done anything like it. I researched Earth Clinic and after reading other peoples testimonies about make-shift salt rinses, gained the courage to try a nasal rinse using whatever I had (travel bottle) and immediately gained relief. I continued it throughout the day with the symptoms improving every hour. Amazing results that honestly, I wasn't expecting to be so significant, so fast.
If you find yourself in unfavourable circumstances and need to use a travel bottle or squeeze bottle, it will be a little messy and it takes a bit of trial and error to work out the right squeeze action and angle of the head, but it still gets results and that's what matters!
I'm completely sold on the concept of a neti pot and will look to using this in my daily routines and also pack a plastic light-weight neti pot into my travel bag wherever I go! Thank you Earth Clinic, what a great resource to share globally.
[YEA] I had a SEVERE sinus infection with raw throat for 3 weeks and had tried everything except anti-biotics because they have never worked. When I finally went to the doc he said most sinus infections are viral and therefore the drugs don't work. He said if it went longer than 10 days (when I virus has finished running its course) then a person could consider the drugs. I didn't want them. What worked? Three days using sinus rinse system from the pharmacy with their mixture of one part sea salt and one part baking soda added to filtered and BOILED water, which had been cooled, twice a day. I used this plus sprays of GSE, then Xylitol-based and the one the doctor recommended was the capsicum (cayenne) based homeopathic spray. It did help but the final nail in this vicious infections coffin was sinus rinse. Make sure you don't push too hard as I accidentally blew water into my ear canal and could hardly hear for two days. No fun! Anyway, I recommend Neilmed plastic bottle as it works great.. I treated the top with hydrogen peroxide on a tissue and left the bottom and top out to dry. I rinsed morning and night... Good luck and thanks SOO much to Earthclinic for giving us all this space to share such crucial information. Bless you guys!!
[YEA] The best cure for sinus infection is a nasal saline rinse. I would get sinus infections that made me super sick for two weeks. At one point they kept reappearing every 3 months. I finally got fed up and went on-line for a remedy. I found a reference to this and decided to try it. It worked pretty effectively and quickly. I used The neilmed brand aftvies scoping out all the options on the drug store shelves. I chose it because it seemed simple compared with the other methods. When I used it, it stopped my cold flu symptoms from putting me in that I need to stay in bed and rest all day state. Then I noticed my running nose and stuffy head went away too. I was still able to function daily as the symptoms declined with the use of the saline nasal rinses. Big difference from the way the infections knocked me out ANC made me feel. I'd say after three days of the washes you feel a big difference and after a week of the washes there's no signs of the infection. Since using this twice, once in the midst of a full blown infection and once at the onset, I haven't had a sinus infection since. It's been a year and a half.
[YEA] I went through a whole year not realizing I had a sinus infection & allergies. I took antiobotics and they did NOTHING! Doing regular warm sinus rinses cured the problem. OH! And eating something spicy! That helps a lot too. Make sure to drink vitamins if you're not getting enough from your foods. I recommend it in liquid form. What a difference!
[YEA] The CURE for SINUS INFECTIONS: Saline Irrigation with Sea Salt and Warm Water applied directly into sinus cavity.
My story: I had bacterial sinus infections on and off for 4 years and this last winter is the first year I did not have bacterial sinus infections. I saw 3 ENT specialists and have tried everything from antiobiotics through saline irrigation (netti pot) using Hydrogen Peroxide or Apple Cider Vinegar. The last year I have been finally free of sinus infections by using Sea Salt and warm water only in my irrigation. What I found it its the technique of HOW you use the irrigation; not WHAT you put in the solution. For me the trick was using an irrigation system that got the warm salt water all the way up into my sinuses. I was using the netti pot while kneeling on the batrhoom floor and holding my head upside down to get the water up into my sinuses. Now I use a water squirting devise (a brand name) that is sold to spray a stream of water to clean teeth. A friend told me about using a water spraying teeth cleaning machine for sinus irrigation years ago and I finally tried it February of 2010 with excellent results. The technique of daily squirting the warm water directly into my sinuses has what kept me from chronic bacterial sinus infections that I had in the past. I had tried Hydrogen Peroxide, Vinegar, Baking Soda etc all with stringing and irritation. The electric water spraying device has worked the best hands down.
I am writing this because this site helped me so much in trying different ways to treat my bacterial sinus infections. I was very depressed and frustrated because the ENT specialists I saw only wanted to do surgery on me. One told me specifically that I could not clean out the bacteria with sinus irrigation when I asked him about it. I believe that I can clean out bacteria and what the ENT said is not true. The sad thing is that MDs do not make any money off of telling people to do sinus irrigation at home. I just wish I had started doing sinus irrigation years ago!
Good luck, keep at it and listen to your body.
Replied by Laura
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Replied by Wyked1
Newark, Ohio, Usa
Replied by Annie Joan
[YEA] Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic! I have been suffering for a little over two weeks now from cold turned into ugly sinus infection. I work with toddlers and I thought that it would take me forever to feel 100% again, which is very important when working with young, energetic ones! Dreading the money it would cost to visit a Dr. (as I do not have health care) I decided to try something natural first. Thank goodness for this website! I mixed just a little over 1/4 teaspoon of salt, a pinch of baking soda and a tiny cap-full of hydrogen peroxide in 1 cup of warm water. I used a baby ear/nose bulb and rinsed like there was no tomorrow. A whole mess of green/yellow mucus came right out of my nose and continued to after the treatment every time I blew my nose. Immediately after the all of the gunk came out I could breathe again, pressure was gone and I was happy! I am very grateful for this amazing website!
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Replied by Melissa
Kings Park, Ny
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Replied by Amber
San Bernardino, California
[YEA] Sinus Infection Remedy
I have been dealing with a sinus infection for over a week now and found the saline rinse suggestion this evening on earthclinic and could not wait to give it a try. After mixing the solution I realized that I was having a very difficult time getting the rinse into my sinuses, during the process however I had an epiphany of how it reminded me of scuba diving. In scuba diving when water gets into your mask you tilt your head back and blow out out your nose to fill the mask with air and push water out the bottom, inevitably rookie divers often pour water up their nose at the beginning of the process, myself being no exception. I got out my scuba mask, poured some saline rinse into it, pressed it to my face and simply tilted my head back and sure enough it worked like a charm. As long as the mask seals well there is little mess and it is a very controlled way to pour the rinse into your sinuses. I felt relief within minutes, the rinse really does work. I plan to buy a spray bottle, but have doubts about its ability to really flood the sinuses, when at home I think I'll keep using my scuba mask.
I still use a nasal rinse "recipe" given to me by an Ear Nose and Throat specialist which is: 1/4 tsp. salt, pinch of baking soda and 2 capfuls of Alkolol with about 1 cup of water. The Alkolol is especially great if you have irritation in your nose. I use a baby bulb syringe and use 1/2 of the mix in each side 1-2 times per day. Super easy if you do it in the shower too!
[YEA] This is how i cured my sinus illness. I read it in a comment from Mexico city. Boil water add salt, not the fine salt, but the grain one add some amount of hydrogen peroxide. drain your noses with a pump you get in the stores called sinus rinse. I suffered from sinus for 5 years. and to the point that i lost the sense of smell.
the next day i woke up spilling blood and mucus from my front forehead literally felt it where it was coming from. after three days of blowing my nose with ugly looking mucus, staring feeling the smell of chicken on a BBQ grill. I almost cried because i could feel the sense of smell.BELIEVE ME IT WORKS!!!!! Any questions email @ email@example.com
Replied by Javier