Got a stuffy nose from allergies or a cold? Nasal irrigation may help. Pouring a saltwater (saline) solution into one nostril will help alleviate the symptoms. As it flows through your nasal cavity into the other nostril, it washes out mucus and allergens. Irrigation can benefit people who have sinus problems, nasal allergies, colds, and even flu symptoms. It can help both adults and kids. 

Guidelines to avoid the saline solution during nasal irrigation from seeping into the middle ear and causing ear blockage:

  • Tilt your head so that one nostril is pointed down toward the sink. Don’t tilt your head back.
  • Breathe through your mouth, not your nose and say the “K” sound throughout the lavage. This helps the soft palate to protect the opening of the eustachian tube (in the nose), so that the solution does not seep into the middle ear.
  • You shouldn’t use it, though, if you have an ear infection or a nostril that’s plugged and hard to breathe through.


  • Succar EF, Turner JH, Chandra RK. Nasal saline irrigation: a clinical update. Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2019 May;9(S1):S4-S8.
  • Gallant JN, Basem JI, Turner JH, Shannon CN, Virgin FW. Nasal saline irrigation in pediatric rhinosinusitis: A systematic review. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2018 May;108:155-162.