Nasaline® Nasal Rinsing System — More Effective for Blocked Sinuses than a Neti Pot — a Review

© 2014 Peter Free


22 January 2014



This review is for people who have temporarily obstructed sinuses — and who have had no luck clearing them with saline irrigation via Neti pots


Squip’s Nasaline® Nasal Rinsing System is a large plastic syringe, similar to those used to push fluids in medical settings.  Nasaline’s has been modified to take a silicone tip that prevents too much fluid from squirting out from the nostril to which it is applied.


The advantage to this system is that it pushes the saline solution into the nose under pressure, whereas a Neti pot uses only gravity:


This video by the Himalayan Institute shows how the Neti pot is supposed to work.


In contrast, Nasaline® works like this.



My experience


I came to the Nasaline® system after a 7-month bout of sinusitis and constant headaches, all of which worsened significantly during flu season.


Two weeks of twice-a-day gravity-fed irrigation did not work to clear anything.  I couldn’t generate the force I needed to clear the sinus clogs or overcome the accompanying inflammation.  Being the impatient sort, I figured that a medical syringe would work a whole lot better, and I found the Nasaline® system after a brief Internet search.



Does Nasaline® work?


Yes.  What the gravity arrangement couldn’t do, Nasaline® cleared almost instantly and with much less time investment and mess.



A few tips on preparing nasal irrigation saline solution


You can buy pre-mixed salt and sodium bicarbonate packets.  But it’s cheaper, although less convenient, to make your own.


In producing your own solution, the concoction will burn less (and possibly prevent allergic reactions) if you use kosher salt, rather than the iodized variety.  Some people add baking soda to the mixture, which they say lessens the stinging sensation that salt brings with it.


I’m not especially sensitive to discomfort, so I use whatever salt I have handy.  I agree that baking soda and kosher salt take the edge off the salt sting.



How much salt? — Background chemistry


How much salt and baking soda to add to your (boiled or distilled) water depends on whether you want the solution to match or exceed the “tonicity” of your blood.


Those who remember school days chemistry will recognize that we are addressing the phenomenon of osmosis and osmotic pressure across cell membranes:



Tonicity is a measure of the osmotic pressure gradient (as defined by the water potential of the two solutions) of two solutions separated by a semipermeable membrane.


It is commonly used when describing the response of cells immersed in an external solution. Like osmotic pressure, tonicity is influenced only by solutes that cannot cross the membrane, as only these exert an osmotic pressure.


Solutes able to freely cross the membrane do not affect tonicity because they will always be in equal concentrations on both sides of the membrane.


There are three classifications of tonicity that one solution can have relative to another. The three are hypertonichypotonic, and isotonic.[1]


Wikipedia, Tonicity (visited 22 January 2014) (paragraph split)


An “isotonic” solution will equal the osmolality (essentially meaning the tonicity) of blood, and water will not flow either way across vessel/cellular membranes.


If the saline solution you prepare has more solutes than blood, it will “suck” water out of the inflamed nasal vessels, hopefully shrinking them a bit.


To approximate an approximately isotonic (“matching”) solution, add a quarter-teaspoon of salt and another quarter-teaspoon of baking soda to each U.S. cup (8 fluid ounces or 237 milliliters) of water.


If you want to experiment with a hypertonic solution (which I prefer when clogged up), use more of each.  Some sites, including Aviva Natural Health Solutions promotional video for Nasaline, indicates that it recommends using half-a-teaspoon of salt per cup of water.



How much saline solution?


The instructions that come with the Nasaline product indicate that you should flush each nostril twice with a full syringe.  This means that you will need 2 cups (about 475 milliliters) of solution.



Temperature of the rinsing solution? — And a caution about falling down


Generally speaking, I think that one is best off attempting to approximate body temperature with the rinsing solution.


Quite a few people are sensitive to temperature changes close to the inner ear, where the sense of balance-controlling vestibular system is located.  A cool or cold nasal rinsing solution, especially, can make you dizzy enough to fall.


Until you know how you are going to react to the nasal rinsing process, position yourself where you can prevent a fall by latching onto something sturdy:


People with balance problems should probably do this rinsing with someone’s else’s assistance or sitting down — for example sitting in a bathtub or shower stall.


Be sure that, if you do lose your balance, your head will not knock against anything hard.


Don’t tough-guy-ignore these safety precautions.  I’m fairly hardy, but my sinusitis makes me dizzy enough that I notice its effect even while slightly turning my head while looking at a computer display.  The nasal rinsing process, done with cooler than body temperature water, had me holding onto the sink, waiting for the spatially disorienting sensation to pass.  Were I frail or sickly, I probably would have hit the floor.





I much prefer the Nasaline® Nasal Rinsing System to gravity-based Neti pots or their analogs.  It works better for sinus clogs and is less messy and time-consuming to use under those conditions.


On the other hand, if a Neti pot works for you, it is a cheaper route over the long haul.  The instructions that come with Nasaline recommend replacing the unit every 4 to 6 months under frequent use:



The syringe plunger has a rubber O-gasket on it.  Once that wears, it no longer generates a seal tight enough to draw water up into the device.


Presumably, over time, the unit could also become home to organisms that you would rather not have in your nose.