Tell me exactly why rinsing my sinuses with a solution of ethanol is a bad idea.

Don’t get me wrong – on a visceral level, I understand that this is probably something that I’d regret. Nevertheless, I keep having the impulse. (Sort of like the way I am frequently tempted to add just a little Sriracha sauce to my grapefruit juice, but have so far managed to avoid actually trying it.)

The thing is, I have a persistent infection in my throat and sinuses. The last bout has lasted since mid-January, and so far I am resisting giving in and taking another course of antibiotics. (I mean, it’s got to resolve on its own someday, right?) Maybe not, but I’ll wait for until my app’t with the ENT is done next week before asking for the sixth course of the twelve-month period.

I have been mitigating it by gargling frequently with Listerine, which loosens up all sorts of repulsive, stringy proteinish crap which is subsequently ejected, and by the frequent application of beer to the bits of my throat that I can reasonably reach with Listerine. At first I thought that the beer was helping just because, hey, beer! But after running out of Listerine and trying to get some relief with salt water or the “Big Gun” Steri/Sol, finding that nothing particularly repulsive was finding its way into the sink. Reasonable conclusion: The gunk that lives in the back of my throat (and sometimes my sinuses) is insoluble in water, but soluble in alcohol.

When the infection finds its way into my sinuses, using a neti pot with the usual isotonic solution is sort of helpful, but not really. Once it gets into my sinuses, I’m generally miserable until the antibiotics knock it back - which will be mid-april based on my schedule of appointments, this time around. I keep thinking… jeez, various ethanol solutions really work a trick on the crap in my the back of my throat, I’ll bet it’d act the same way in my poor, alien-occupied sinuses.

Intuitively, I know that this would hurt like a son-of-a-bitch… but still… I keep thinking… “Maybe just a 5% solution, to clear it out… I’m a man, I’ve endured more painful things for less significant gains… no, that’s insane. You can’t put *alcohol *in your sinuses! But alcohol is its kryptonite… Sure, it’ll hurt, but!”

Give me a more concrete reason than “That’s bound to be unpleasant!” …cuz if it might make it possible to avoid missing work for the next two weeks, I think I may give in and give it a shot, bad idea or no.

I have no idea, but an important question: could you get into an emergency room immediately if things go terribly wrong?

As for your theory - insoluble in water but soluble in alcohol - I’m skeptical. Alcohol is a polar compound, soluble in water itself.

Why don’t you try something a less aggressive application of ethanol first? Make a hot herbal tea with a healthy shot of your favorite distilled beverage and breath deeply. See if that loosens things up.

Two words, my friend, Salt Water.

It was recommended to me, by the surgeon who did my sinus surgery. And it’s the bomb, baby. Haven’t had to use anything stronger in about 5 yrs now. It completely cured my sinusitis, notoriously difficult to throw.

If you don’t like a neti pot, (neither did I, not always the best thing for people with bad, sometimes irregular sinus’s), get the aerosol saline from the drug store. Be sure to sterilize the tip after every use, to avoid reinfection. (I use a baby food jar filled with rubbing alcohol!) It’s what they give you after sinus surgery.

Another thing he recommended, which I found extremely effective for fighting any sinus congestion, was Apple Cider Vinegar. (Yes, I know you’ve heard it’s magic, can cure cancer and will bring peace to the Middle East. None of which is true.) What is true is that because it is fermented with the skins on, it is effectively a concentrate of something in apple skins that actually thins mucus. When I’m getting congested I drink 1/2 ounce in the morning and again in the evening. Not on an empty stomach is a good idea, as is brushing your teeth afterward, as it’s hard on your enamel. Be prepared that it will clear your sinus’s very quickly, you’ll be breathing better within a couple of minutes.

As he explained it to me, thinning the mucus will make drainage much easier, your body will do the rest, by itself.

I wish I’d known, of these two products, twenty years ago. I’d have saved enough, in over the counter cold remedy, to buy a damn car!

Is there anything soluble in alcohol that isn’t soluble in water? I’m not trying to be snotty (uh, no pun intended), I just really can’t think of anything. OTOH, some things which are water soluble will dissolve *faster *in alcohol. So maybe you just need to keep that isotonic saline via neti pot up in your schnozzle a little longer so it has more time to work?

I can tell you that ethanol WILL be absorbed by mucus membranes, and very quickly and at levels higher then you’d expect. So you’ll get drunk really fast, and possibly dangerously so. Alcohol poisoning would be a bitch.

We’re putting threads seeking medical advice in IMHO these days, so let me move this thither for you.

Clearly, your best approach is to fill your neti pot with Listerine and give it a snort. Be sure to film it!

I’m going to go try that apple cider because I’ve also had a sinus infection since January and I loathe nasal spray.

Have you tried the hot steam pot with towel over head thing? I can’t stand it and come up for air too early, but my boyfriend swears by it - you have to really breathe in the steam over a period of time long enough to kill some shit up in there. Put some peppermint in the water for shits and giggles.

1: You need to increase the salt concentration 2x or 3x

2: In the morning and evening do the rinse out 2 times in a row for each nostril

2: Increase the temp of the water slightly

3: Use a battery powered powered sinus irrigatorlike to one I use. It’ll get the salt water back up into the far sinuses where it needs to be

Alcohol in sufficient concentration will damage your sinus membranes if directly applied. Don’t do it.

Verily, the Dead Sea itself has gone in one nostril and out the other. (When it flows at all.)

I don’t think this would be much of a risk. What percentage is Listerine, anyway? I was thinking max 10%, and the neti pot is only 250ml. It would drain straight through; I would be very surprised if enough was absorbed to catch a buzz.

Still haven’t heard anything dissuasive enough to put the idea out of my blocked-up blockhead, but this suggestion will probably give me enough of an alternative to keep me distracted for a couple of weeks until the next round of antibiotics, and I’m willing to bet it won’t be as painful as the contemplated. :slight_smile:

I don’t really have helpful information to add, but there are in fact youtube videos of people using a neti pot with various alcohols. Here’s one with whiskey (at the end). Seems like a less than desirable result.

Alcohol and other ingredients (especially anything “minty fresh”) in Listerine are irritants. What use is cleaning out the sinuses if you’re going to make them swollen and irritated? They’re probably going to overproduce mucus when you do that, and irritation will make them more susceptible to infection by anything nasty that gets inhaled.

Ha! That’s some quality dissuasion, right there.

Get you some of this and this and maybe even thisfor good measure, and (hopefully) thank me later.

Shop around though, those links are from the manufacturer and aren’t the best prices out there. (For example)

There’s a lot of conflicting info out there about grapefruit-seed extract (read the wikito get the negative gist) if you want to wade through it. All I can tell you is that it has worked wonders for me on the few occasions when I’ve used all three of the products I linked above.

But, of course, I must include the obligatory warning: If you’re still having problems after a few days, or if it keeps getting worse, get thee to a doctor and get some real medicine!

Have you been to a Pulmonolgist? My brother went to one and finally got the help he needed. The Pulmonolgist explained that there’s a tiny sinus area that is very hard to get completely clear. He gave my brother mega doses of strong anti-biotics, along with something to clear out his lungs. That seems to have finally worked.

There actually have been studies linking some chronic sinus infections to fungal infections. The fungi provide crevices for the bacteria to take hold. One of the “naturalist doctors” who claimed to figure this out ahead of time claims that oregano is a natural fungicide, and can be used intranasally. But, if you’d rather not do that, you can maybe try some other anti-fungal medications.

I remember this study because it was used as validation for a lot of pseudoscientists who had claimed that fungi caused all sorts of health problems. While many of the claims are bogus, this one seems to at least have the research and independent verification behind it. Read this. While it isn’t heavily cited, the studies he mentions do exist, and he does appear to be a real doctor.

Get yourself a steam vaporizer (STEAM). I find it helps open things up. You can take all the medicine in the world but if you have a colony of crap living in your sinuses t
here is no direct delivery system.

Just today I suffered all day with sinus problems. It was the sinuses in the back and nose spray doesn’t seem to open them up. 5 minutes with a towel draped over my head to focus the steam and I feel a zillion times better.

I once snorted a spoonful of vodka, so I simultaneously possess both some authority and no credibility.

The alcohol bypasses the normal route of guts and liver and is absorbed right into the blood stream. A small amount causes substantial feelings of intoxication and perhaps actual intoxication (BAC) for all I know. But it does seem to wear off quickly. The pain is not insubstantial. I see you considered watering it down. I have no idea at what point a neti flush with a certain percentage of booze wouldn’t sting. The only concern, aside from the pain, would be uncontrollable intoxication. It’s not like working your way through a six pack - where you can gauge a pace and stopping point. Once you’ve put alcohol up your schnoz, you’re locked in. So I imagine a scenario where one neti pot kind of works, so you try a second and third. If that happened, and depending on the %, you could poison yourself. Even puking wouldn’t purge anything in this bizarre scenario. I think even Cecil wrote about an alcoholic who died via a booze enema.

26.9% alcohol for original Listerine Antiseptic Mouthwash.

Just so we’re clear here, you don’t put the Apple Cider Vinegar in the neti pot.

You drink it down.

And if the neti pot isn’t reaching the spot, try switching to the saline spray, it has a different nozzle, and because it sprays under pressure, it reaches hard to reach spots. You could use the saline spray lying down, if you had to.

The catch 22, in all this, is people with poor sinus drainage, who suffer from so many headcolds etc, often have misshapened sinus cavities. So neti pots etc, often just aren’t as effective for them.

Get yourself one of those water bottles with the pop up top instead of the neti pot. I’ve found that it creates a better seal over my intake nostril, and that I can gently squeeze the bottle, which creates a bit of additional pressure that helps shake more of the crud loose.