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What Is a Nasal Douche?

A nasal douche, often referred to as nasal irrigation, is a personal hygiene practice where the nasal cavity is washed to flush out mucus and debris. This simple, yet effective method can alleviate symptoms of sinusitis, allergies, and colds. Intrigued by how a gentle stream of saline can provide such relief? Discover the soothing benefits of nasal douching with our illustrative guide.
Sandi Johnson
Sandi Johnson

A traditional nasal douche is a glass container used to flush nasal passages with isotonic salt water or saline solution. The process is intended to clear or wash mucus and bacteria out of the nose, while also providing soothing relief from dry nose symptoms. Today, modern versions of a nasal douche include plastic, glass, or rubber containers. Select systems offer electronic compressors and plastic chambers to aerate saline into a fine mist. Rather than simple gravity-based containers requiring users to spray or pour salt water through the nasal passages, electric or atomized systems deliver solutions at a constant pressure set by the user.

To use a nasal douche, a small amount of fluid is placed in the douche and then sniffed, sprayed, or poured, depending on the specific nasal douche design. One nostril is treated at a time. Water or vaporized saline flows into one nostril, then either pours or is blown out of the other nostril. Repeating the process with the second nostril completes the treatment. Professionals and care providers recommend different treatment frequencies to fit the specific ailment in question.

Table salt can be dissolved in distilled water to make a saline solution that can be used to irrigate the nasal sinuses.
Table salt can be dissolved in distilled water to make a saline solution that can be used to irrigate the nasal sinuses.

Other common terms for similar therapies include nasal lavage or nasal irrigation. Equipment similar to a nasal douche would be neti pots, bulb syringes, and even some pulsating equipment with knobs to control pressure. Irrigation solutions include normal saline solution, homemade salt water, premixed isotonic salt water, and commercially available nasal lubricants. Alternatively, commercially available kits can be purchased which include the douching container, pre-measured packages of isotonic salt, and associated supplies. Users need only add water to complete the kit.

A nasal irrigation spray.
A nasal irrigation spray.

Using neti pots and the practice of nasal irrigation began in ancient India, with a practice known as Jala-neti. Nasal douches function much the same as a neti pot and similar equipment. Modern medical practitioners recommend either method of nasal irrigation, often treating such remedies as interchangeable. Lavaging or irrigating, as the treatment is sometimes called, is an effective home remedy in cases of severe hay fever, sinus infection, dry crusty nose, allergies, and other nasal problems, both temporary and chronic.

Neti pots are another type of nasal irrigation.
Neti pots are another type of nasal irrigation.

Studies have shown that atomized nasal douche treatments are, for some ailments such as viral nasal infections, better than simple nasal irrigation using common sodium chloride solutions. Several such studies have been conducted by the University of Siena in Italy, using between 60 and 200 test subjects. In each study patients tested as showing higher nasal functions using an atomized nasal douche over other similar treatments. An atomized nasal douche consists of a small compressor and a delivery chamber that together provide saline in a mist form, rather than simple salt water solution.

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Discussion Comments


Nasal douching is fantastic. All allergy sufferers must make this a regular routine. It's far better than decongestant medications.

And nasal douching doesn't just clear mucus from the nose. It also helps get rid of bacteria and viruses. I try to do nasal douching more often in winter for this reason. I believe I get rid of a lot of bacteria and viruses this way before they have the opportunity to settle in my throat or move down to my lungs.

The first few tries with a nasal douche are a bit awkward but once one gets used to it, it becomes very easy.


I was wondering where the term "neti pot" comes from. I didn't know it comes from India, from the term "Jala-neti." That's cool. I have Indian friends who swear by homeopathy used in India, so it's not surprising that this irrigation method was adopted by the west.

I don't use a neti pot or anything like that but I do nasal douching in my own way. I just take boiled water in a glass and add salt to it. I let it cool down a little so that its warm and I enhale it into my nostrils one by one. I inhale it and then allow it to flow back out. I repeat this several times until I can feel my nose clearing up. I always do this little home treatment before I got to bed when I'm ill. It allows me to breathe well and fall asleep easily.


My coworker uses a neti pot and she always suggests it to me whenever I'm sick. She says that it clears up the nasal passages and allows her to breathe. When I'm sick, I always have congestion. My nose is stuffy and I can't breathe. It also happens when my sinus allergies act up. I'm a bit hesitant to use a nasal douche but if it's so beneficial, then it's probably worth giving a try.

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    • Table salt can be dissolved in distilled water to make a saline solution that can be used to irrigate the nasal sinuses.
      By: Ruslan Kudrin
      Table salt can be dissolved in distilled water to make a saline solution that can be used to irrigate the nasal sinuses.
    • A nasal irrigation spray.
      By: Vladyslav Danilin
      A nasal irrigation spray.
    • Neti pots are another type of nasal irrigation.
      By: Sinisa Botas
      Neti pots are another type of nasal irrigation.