In one honker, out the other... or what's supposed to happen.
September 13, 2009 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Nasal solution goes in and out the same nostril. How do I make it go in one and out the other instead?

The inside of my nose has been getting a bit smelly lately, along with some stuffiness. I heard that nasal irrigation can clear up the nose and get rid of the smell, so I'm using a bulb syringe and a homemade solution for the job.

Instructions that I've read on the 'nets and videos say to let the solution drain go in one nostril and out the other. Trouble is, my solution keeps backing out the same nostril that it goes in. I've tried different angles for the syringe and my head too, to no avail. I've also tried sniffing up the solution, which led to some "gack!" moments.

It's not like that's a bad thing (is it?), but still, I'm wondering: why is the solution not going in one hole and out the other?
posted by curagea to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
You may have a blockage up under the bridge of the nose, also known as an obstruction. I wonder if your Ethmoid sinuses are enlarged or if you have polyps.

You may want to talk with your doctor about the problems your are having. FWIW--I do saline rinses twice a day. It goes out (mostly) the other nostril. IANAD, YMMV.
posted by 6:1 at 6:02 PM on September 13, 2009

by enlarged, I mean swollen.
posted by 6:1 at 6:03 PM on September 13, 2009

I don't know if you're doing this already, but it will probably help if you're not: lean forward over the sink (all the way, so you're facing down) and turn your head to one side. Spray/pour/whatever the stuff into which ever nostril is higher up. Then turn the other way for the other nostril. Also make sure your bulb syringe (or whatever implement you're using) completely blocks the nostril it's in so the solution won't just flow right out.
posted by k. at 6:16 PM on September 13, 2009

Try a neti pot. It will be a little easier to determine if there is a blockage. The design keeps one nostril blocked forcing the water out the other.
posted by kimdog at 6:18 PM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I recently messed around with irrigation, and had no problem getting in-one-out-the-other. I tend to agree that if you can't get it to happen, you might want to check with your doctor regarding a blockage of some sort.
posted by madmethods at 7:07 PM on September 13, 2009

Doubling what k. said, I had trouble at first but facing the sink then turning to once side allowed me to get the right angle.

I also use a neti pot, the only pressure is from the weight of the water.
posted by beowulf573 at 7:12 PM on September 13, 2009

I just had a consultation with my physician about nasal irrigation, which he suggested as a way to deal with some upper respiratory problems I'm facing. He mentioned that in-one-out-the-other style irrigation a la "neti pot" is less effective as it means you're not irrigating deeply enough. His advice? "Really SNIFF it up in there, until you feel it in the back of your throat, then let it run out wherever it comes out."

He also suggested that if you can manage it, the best thing to do is put your saline into a nice big coffee mug and do both nostrils at once. But that's pretty hardcore if you ask me.
posted by majick at 8:07 PM on September 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I use a Water Pik and it still works, even coming out the same nostril.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:05 PM on September 13, 2009

Thirding the neti pot. They aren't expensive and most come with packets of premixed saline rinse - add lukewarm water, stick it in your nose and watch in amazement as the crap in your sinuses goes down the drain.

Make sure your nostril is completely blocked by the pot per suggestions above. If you're really blocked up, you may need to do the rinse more than once before any appreciable amount of liquid makes it through to the other side.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:38 PM on September 13, 2009

Funny. I do it by putting it in my mouth, then blowing it up and out my nose. That way, nothing is forced deeper, only out.
posted by Goofyy at 11:51 PM on September 13, 2009

Watching youtube videos of how people use the neti pot is pretty useful.
posted by surenoproblem at 1:21 AM on September 14, 2009

I have done this by filling the kitchen sink with warm salt water, immersing my face, and puling the water in through my nose until it overflows into my mouth. Blow back out through nose and do it a couple more times; in-out-in-out.
posted by chazlarson at 7:44 AM on September 14, 2009

Wow, the doctor who said a neti pot isn't thorough hasn't tried one, or even studied it! The neti pot, used correctly, FILLS THE SINUS CAVITIES COMPLETELY before coming out!

I LOVE this site for instructions on using the neti. Includes drying the sinuses, and 'advanced' techniques for getting the water all around!

Use warm water, NOT cold! I use kosher salt, and neti in the shower. I really have to bend over to get the water to flow correctly, but boy, it sure feels good! Remembering to point the "out" nostril down is helpful!
posted by Jinx of the 2nd Law at 10:57 PM on September 14, 2009

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