Nasal irrigation

I’ve had a bunged up nose for most of my time in Canada this summer, but it reached a nadir in the last few days, leaving me speaking like a caricature of a man with a cold, and gradually growing dumber and deafer. Fortunately one of our friends gave me a nasal rinse and today I tried it out for the first time.

It’s a wonderfully simple device – a squeezy plastic bottle with a nozzle that you stick up your nose. Then you gently squirt a solution of Epsom salts in distilled water into one side of your nose, and it flows up, and then out the other nostril, washing all the gunk that’s in your nasal passages with it.

It’s a wonderfully cleansing, utterly revolting process. As I did it, gouts of green snot were expunged from my nose. A sticky, eight inch tendril of mucus protruded from my right nostril and finally fell away into the sink. The solution of Epsom salts doesn’t taste or smell of anything; there’s just this strange sensation of liquid going in, and then coming out of your nose.

After a very long time, when no more disgusting slime exited my nose, I swapped nostrils and did the other side. Disappointingly, that ran clear; I had been expecting a Lovecraftian array of pseudopods, ectoplasm, pencil erasers, garden furniture and so on to issue forth. I wiped, and I dripped a bit, and I wiped again, and then I cleaned up the bottle and left it to dry.

There are various warnings on the packaging to only use distilled or boiled water. Wonderful though tap water is, it’s not sufficently devoid of creatures or substances to be the sort of thing you want to spray up your nose. For a layman’s guide to why that is, just watch Slither. Fortunately, I’d been gifted a half gallon of distilled water along with the nasal rinse bottle and the Epsom salts, so I could safely clean out my nose without fear of provoking further incursions.

As a result, my nose now feels lovely and clear. This is just the sort of thing I’d like to employ while on a plane, but unfortunately you can’t get the requisite amount of distilled water through security, and I don’t think Boots in Heathrow sell the liquid I need. Still, I’ll make sure I have a clean and shiny nose in Singapore as quickly as possible.

Also, it was my wife’s birthday today, although she didn’t celebrate by spraying a solution of Epsom salts up her nose. Why not, I’ll never understand. We had a party, we ate lots of cake, and then I fell asleep at 7:30 in the evening, which is pretty much par for the course these days.


2 responses to “Nasal irrigation”

  1. Wow. Once I got a nasal spray for my hayfever and I had tears in my eyes the first time I used it, it hurt so much.
    I’m surprised that this works in that I assumed that mucous was produced constantly in response to irritation, but I guess it makes sense that being sticky, it might hang around longer than needed.
    I love the feeling of a good ear syringe! And seeing the amount of stuff that comes out – last time, about 3 great clods from one ear.

    • I think it’s the magic of Epsom salts getting rid of the stuff that is producing the irritation, but at this point I’m not going to question the miracle. (Like the sore throat cure I was presented with a few years ago: gargle with salt water, rather than waste money on Lemsip.)

      Ear syringing I haven’t tried since a similarly gross experience in Hong Kong in 2010 or so – baseball size lumps of black wax. I shudder to think what else may be in there. But then that makes me think I should find out…

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