Something that really helps clear a clogged nose and wash away bacteria and virus is a saline sinus rinse.
The first time I heard about the neti pot and sinus rinse, I was totally grossed out. And I can tell you, I was NOT going up in front of the whole hydrotherapy class to try it out. The teacher demonstrated it, and I thought yuck!
However, a few clogged noses and aching sinuses later, I was ready to try it out. I used a purchased bottle intended for the purpose. It worked wonders! And I have not left off since.
The idea is to flush salt water at the right concentration through your nose and sinuses (red area in the drawing), so the water flows in one nostril and comes out the other. Usually, you have to have a neti pot for this. A neti pot looks like a small tea pot (you can look it up on the internet), and you hold the spout against one nostril and pour in the water.
However, I don't have a neti pot, but I still want to be able to do the sinus rinse. So I figured a dish-soap bottle would do. It actually works great, and it's totally free and something you already have at home. (You might have to ask grandma to empty all the dish soap into a jar so you can use the bottle to do a What did you say?, but that's okay. You just tell her she will get it back after you washed all the snot away!)
When you have secured you invaluable dish-soap bottle, you are ready to go on with this instructable!
Step 1: Make the Saline Solution
You can mix your own saline solution, or you can buy a readymade saline solution intended for the purpose. If you make your own solution, you have to be very precise with the ratio of salt to water, as the solution will otherwise sting your nose. If you feel unsure about mixing your own solution, you can always be on the safe side and buy some. On the other hand, a little stinging in the nose wont hurt you -- it's just uncomfortable. But practice makes perfect!
To make your own solution, you need 1 mL salt to 1 dl. water, which equals 1 tsp. salt to 5 dl. water. This is enough for one treatment. Use lukewarm water, as it feels more comfortable than cold. It is also easier to dissolve the salt in warm water. Make sure to use only boiled and cooled water or distilled water for the solution, so it is sterile.
Mix the salt and water until the salt is completely dissolved. If you see any floating debris from the salt, you may remove it (debris mostly occurs with sea or himalaya salt).
Step 2: Prepare the Bottle
Test to see that the bottle tip fits snugly against you nose. You do not need to stick it into your nose!
Before you pour in the solution, make sure to wash the bottle carefully until there is absolutely no soap left. You don't want to flush soap into your sinuses!
When the bottle is clean, pour in the lukewarm solution and screw on the cap.
Step 3: Do It!
Are you ready? It's not as gross as you think!
Fit the tip of the bottle against your nose. Bend over and tilt your head to the opposite side of where you are holding the bottle. Hold the bottle close to your nose, relax, breathe through your mouth, and squeeze gently. You should not build up a pressure inside your nose, as that might make a sinus infection worse.
Initially, the liquid may not run through your nose if you are very clogged. Just keep on squeezing a little and blowing your nose if needed until the nose is cleared. Pour water until it comes out the other side of the nose.
If the water will not run through your nose, try tilting your head more to the side. If you get water in your mouth, lean more forward.
It takes some practice to get this right, but it is worth it!
When you feel that your nose and sinuses are cleared, gently blow your nose in a paper napkin. You may experience slight dripping from your nose during the following minutes as the last liquid flows from you sinuses. Just blow your nose again.
Step 4: An Alternative Method (Nasal Rinse)
For a simple nasal rinse where no bottle is needed, simply pour some saline solution in your hand, sniff it up with your nose, and blow your nose in a paper napkin.
This method does not rinse your sinuses but only your nose.
As with the previous treatment, this takes some practice, and you might get salt water in your mouth if you are unlucky. But practice makes perfect!
An easier -- though less effective -- method is to use some saline nasal spray. When the bottle is empty, simply refill with the homemade solution. This is especially great for small kids.
Step 5: If You Are Not Ready to Try It ...
If you are not ready to try a sinus or nasal rinse, there is still something you can do to relieve the clogged nose and aching sinuses. Sucking on Fisherman's Friend pastilles or eating peppermint oil (dab a tiny bit on your hand and lick it up) will help, as the menthol/mint aid in clearing the airways.