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Saline Nasal Washes: Care Instructions

Person's face and neck, showing front and side views of sinuses and throat

Your Care Instructions

Saline nasal washes help keep the nasal passages open by washing out thick or dried mucus. This simple remedy can help relieve symptoms of allergies, sinusitis, and colds. It also can make the nose feel more comfortable by keeping the mucous membranes moist. You may notice a little burning sensation in your nose the first few times you use the solution, but this usually gets better in a few days.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • You can buy premixed saline solution in a squeeze bottle or other sinus rinse products at a drugstore. Read and follow the instructions on the label.
  • You also can make your own saline solution by adding 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 2 cups of distilled water.
  • If you use a homemade solution, pour a small amount into a clean bowl. Using a rubber bulb syringe, squeeze the syringe and place the tip in the salt water. Pull a small amount of the salt water into the syringe by relaxing your hand.
  • Sit down with your head tilted slightly back. Do not lie down. Put the tip of the bulb syringe or the squeeze bottle a little way into one of your nostrils. Gently drip or squirt a few drops into the nostril. Repeat with the other nostril. Some sneezing and gagging are normal at first.
  • Gently blow your nose.
  • Wipe the syringe or bottle tip clean after each use.
  • Repeat this 2 or 3 times a day.
  • Use nasal washes gently if you have nosebleeds often.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You often get nosebleeds.
  • You have problems doing the nasal washes.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.