It came to me in a rather unique way. I was co-chairing ASJA‘s Personal Pitch program — one of the events at our annual writer’s conference — a few years ago. We put out feelers to PR folks asking them for 100 or so giveaways for the editor gift bags we were putting together. One of the items: A SinuCleanse Neti Pot. It caused quite a stir at the conference. People laughed, to be honest. They made fun of it. Some were embarrassed that it went into the gift bag. Not me, though. I was cautiously excited, and this was in spite of the fact that the idea of pouring saline solution into one nostril and letting it drip out the other sort of freaked me out. (Personal disclosure: I’m the person who jumps into the pool holding her nose.) Pouring water in there on purpose?!? That sounded a little wacky to me.
And yet, an avid researcher, I was already well aware of the benefits of nasal irrigation. People who use simple saline solution irrigation have found an effective treatment for chronic nasal symptoms, according to a study out of The University of Michigan Health System. Another even more impressive study published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association found that children who used saline nasal irrigation saw cold symptoms improve, but the kicker was that the kids who regularly treated with nasal irrigation “had significantly less severe sore throats, coughs, nasal obstructions and secretions than those in the standard treatment group. In addition, during the prevention phase, fewer children in the saline group were using fever-reducing drugs (9 percent vs. 33 percent), nasal decongestants (5 percent vs. 47 percent), mucus-dissolving medications (10 percent vs. 37 percent) or antibiotics (6 percent vs. 21 percent). During the same period, children using saline had fewer days of illness, missed school days or complications.”
Wow. So they got sick less. They took fewer antibiotics, and used less over-the-counter medication. Wow. So I did it. The next time I felt a cold coming on, I put my head over the sink, poked the ASJA gift bag neti pot into one of my nostrils, and let it flow. I was sort of surprised at how good it felt. I was also surprised that my cold didn’t progress the way it usually would have. It was mild. I was hooked. Aside from the fact that my husband thought it was the funniest thing — me bent over the sink with water running out of my nose — and laughed about it, I was a happy woman.
Fast forward to last winter, when my husband got a terrible cold. He was dying, he said. He couldn’t sleep, he said. He was miserable, so I offered him the neti. He was in such agony that he actually decided to give it a go. He instantly fell in love with the way it flushed all the nasty mucus out of his sinuses. He was a neti convert. And there you have it. I assumed it was a one-time deal, washed my pot, and forgot about it.
This week, however, he got another head cold. A nasty one. He took possession of my neti again, except this time he told me to go buy my own. My own. Can you imagine? I stopped on my way home from the train station. Anyone have a Sharpie? I’m marking this one.