Breaking rule No. 3 might bring you relief


Janet's World

February 07, 2010|By Janet Gilbert | Special to The Baltimore Sun

I've always followed several simple rules for a healthy lifestyle: exercise, drink plenty of water and never stick foreign objects up your nose.

The importance of this third guideline was underscored for me as a parent when, several years ago, there was a particularly hot toy on the market called Treasure Rocks. Treasure Rocks were oddly shaped, mud-colored stones that, once shaken in a container with a special solution of water, became real, plastic, faceted gemstones. Your child could then snap these garish nuggets into even gaudier settings to create tacky jewelry.

Treasure Rocks flew off the shelves, becoming so coveted in our cul-de-sac, apparently, that the toddler next door pilfered a few on a play date by pushing them up her nose. The nasal stash of Treasure Rocks was later discovered by her astonished parents and removed in the pediatric emergency room.

The Treasure Rocks incident was oft-repeated in our neighborhood as a warning to all children under 5, embellished by anxious parents to the point that it has probably become an urban legend, migrating all over the country as the story of the girl who hid the Hope Diamond in her nose.

So you can imagine my son's surprise when I suggested the use of the Neti pot.

Many of you might not be familiar with the Neti pot, so let me describe it in a way that is both accurate and shocking.

Say I told you to get a child's teapot and brew a little lukewarm saline solution in it. And then I told you to lean over the sink and stick the spout of the teapot far into one nostril, and pour the solution into your nose until it runs out the other nostril.

This does sound remarkably like it is breaking rule No. 3 for a healthy lifestyle. And yet, it is the essence of nasal irrigation.

According to an article on the Web MD Web site, "The basic explanation of how the Neti pot works is that it thins mucus to help flush it out of the nasal passages, according to Dr. David Rabago, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and a leading researcher on nasal irrigation.

Many of us experience chronic sinus issues during the winter months, and so the Neti pot seems at least worth a try. Featured on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," this device is fast becoming the Treasure Rocks for the over-40 generation. My parents even had one, and I decided to try it while I was in Florida because, as usual, I had come down with the Southwest Airlines virus 48 hours after getting off the plane.

I read the instructions thoroughly, because I was quite anxious about breaking rule No. 3. And I even watched a demonstration on YouTube, which was exceedingly strange but helpful.

I am happy to report that my nasal passages did feel more comfortable once I was done. But I cannot be entirely sure that this is not just because it felt really weird when I was using the Neti pot, and it was just a darn relief when it was over.

Still, I do believe my cold ran a faster course. So this is why I recommended the Neti pot to my son, who has had a string of colds this winter because he spends a lot of time in high school, which, next to the airline industry, is an ideal breeding ground for germs.

My son had much the same reaction to the Neti pot as I did, saying, "Wow, this is really weird."

So it is up to you whether you try the Neti pot or not. I am merely informing you about its proper use, so that we will not meet in the ER with teapots far up our noses.

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