I have a deviated septum. The bone and cartilage that’s supposed to run straight up and down in my nose is crooked. While this might sound like a cover-up for a nose job, it’s not — I get raging sinus infections. I’ve subsisted on a daily dose of Nasonex and Flonase since childhood, and when things got really bad, a monthly prescription of Z-Pak (naturally, I’m also allergic to penicillin); but, eventually my sinusitis got harder to treat. Soon enough, my ENT suggested a more natural route.
People have been using nasal irrigation since the dawn of Ayurveda (you’ve likely already heard of the neti pot already), but after much trial and error, I could never quite press my ear to my shoulder while pouring water through a contraption that resembled my mother’s tea pot. The whole thing felt so unnatural as to be rendered ineffective. I needed something more lo-fi.
It was my ENT doctor who led me to a, well, solution. NeilMed’s Sinus Rinse looks and feels slightly cheesy (there’s an actual picture of founder Dr. Mehta on the box, which is almost subway ad-esque). I simply fill the plastic bottle with NeilMed’s premixed packet of sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate—NeilMed makes those too—and stand over the sink. While pressing the bottle against one nostril, I gently squeeze it and out comes a steady stream of mucus and water from the other end of my nose, no contorting or gagging necessary. I can literally breathe easier. Since discovering it, I use it once or twice a day, and even more in the summertime when my air conditioner is on full blast, filter lint and all. The best part? I haven’t been to the doctor for breathing issues in months. With insurance copays through the roof, it’s quite possibly the best $20 I’ve ever spent.
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