Sinus rinses

My dad recently went through a sinus surgery and the recovery has been tough for him. The worst part, as he tells it, is the twice daily sinus rinse he is advised to do. He complains that leaves him with a constantly runny nose, a massive headache, and just generally wipes him out. I know a lot of people use these rinses as a daily regimen to prevent sinus infections, and maybe even colds and flus. Are there any tips and tricks to making it less unpleasant? He’s using NeilMed Sinus Rinse, and he already warms it slightly.

  1. Warming it “slightly” may not be enough. The closer it is to body temperature, the more comfortable it will be. If he’s got the rinse in a squirt bottle, carrying it around in his pocket for a while before using it may get it close. (I do that with eye drops. For a rinse, I just adjust the water temp until it feels neither particularly warm nor cool to the touch.)

  2. For the constantly runny nose part–he may not be getting all of the rinse to run out after using it, so it continues to dribble. After the initial rinse, he might try leaning way forward and putting his head down to drain more of the rinse into areas it can run out of more easily. (Think of rotating a plastic jug to get the last drops of water out of it.)

  3. He may need to adjust the concentration, especially if he’s mixing it from a packet. The baseline target is roughly the same salt concentration as blood or seawater. A higher proportion of water makes for a more moisturizing rinse, while a lower proportion may dry up a runny nose better. (Making it too concentrated may lead to a burning sensation, though, so don’t go overboard.)

Don’t use straight tap water. I used to until SWMBO pointed me at an article where people have died from critters in the water. Boiled or bottled is better, and points above.

Have you tried doing it yourself, Greg Charles? And/or watching him do it?

I use a NeliMed with NeliMed packets every single night and don’t come away with a headache or a runny nose. I don’t use it too often during the day but when I do it doesn’t wipe me out in the least.

The rinse actually soothes my dad’s cluster headaches. They go away in 10 minutes if he manages to do a rinse while in the throes of one.

Sounds like your dad is either mixing wrong (too much water can burn, hot or cold water can be irritating) or executing wrong. Is he scared when he does it? Does the act of bending over awkwardly make him feel bad? Is he just letting the water go in and come out or is he doing something else? Is he blowing his nose after each pour, like in the directions?

Thanks for the advice! I’ll pass it on. Yes, I suppose I should watch him do it, and try it myself. I believe he’s using distilled water now, and mixing it the way package tells him to. I don’t think it scares him; he just doesn’t like it.

He shouldn’t get a headache from it, sounds like he’s doing it wrong. Or possibly he’s congested and the rinse is just adding to that. See if he’s “firehosing” himself - he should squirt it gently. He might also need to go back to his doctor if he’s congested and getting worse.

If he’s using distilled water warming it up in the microwave briefly will help. I microwave mine for about 25 seconds before mixing in the packet (YMMV), just enough to make it feel luke warm to my touch.

I warm the water in the microwave. I don’t get headaches, but I do find I need to hang my head over the sink for a little bit right after I rinse. I turn my head from side to side and up and down trying to be sure I have all the water out. If I don’t do that, I can have some dripping at most inopportune time.

Hope he feels better. I hated the recovery time after my sinus surgery.

I use a neti pot, but my doc didn’t suggest anything of the sort when I had my sinus surgery. He said it wouldn’t hurt, but the thing he specifically wanted me to do was spray my nose with saline regularly. So if the rinse isn’t working, I’d say just grab a bottle of saline spray.

Also, if his problems with the rinse are related to the pressure of squirting it in, maybe he should try a neti pot, which just pours water in one nostril and it falls out of the other. So it’s gravity, not his muscles squeezing the bottle, that powers the water. That might alleviate the headaches and such.

I find the neti pot to be a pleasant experience. I haven’t tried the squirt bottles, but they just seem like they’d be unpleasant. I use my neti pot in the shower. I’ve had no issue with brain bugs yet.

Neither have I, but I’d rather not take the chance since brain eating amoeba doesn’t sound like a good way to start the day.

FWIW, I’ve been using a neti pot now for about 4 years and it also helps with snoring.

I’ve had sinus surgery, and the recovery was surprisingly arduous. Even for a young (25 at the time) and otherwise healthy guy, the recovery wiped me out for a week. I suspect the OP’s father is older than 25 - age tends to make post-op unpleasantness last longer.

Having the neti / rinse close to body temp is key. I did it once with room temp water and it was horrible. Pressure/congestion to rival the splints and packing after surgery and brutal discomfort.