As halitosis and post-nasal drip treatments, neti pots come up short

Neti pot on blue background

If you have post-nasal drip, the resulting halitosis can be truly foul. Chronic bad breath caused by this steady stream of mucus can make you pretty desperate for relief. Is it any wonder, then, that some people turn to post-nasal drip treatments that simply don't work?

A prime example is the neti pot. This little device is occasionally marketed as the end all for every nasal ailment you can think of, including halitosis caused by allergies or sinusitis. However, there are easier (and more effective) ways to get your breath under control, the best being a specialty breath freshener.

If you've never seen one before, a neti pot looks like a small, ceramic genie's lamp. To use it, the pot is filled with sterile water. This is then poured in one nostril and up into the nasal cavity. Ideally, the excess flows out the other nostril - though if you've ever used one, you know it's just as likely to go down your throat.

Some problems with using a neti pot as a post-nasal drip treatment:

- It doesn't work. The best the Mayo Clinic can say for it is that "many people believe that regular use of a neti pot is...effective for nasal allergy and sinus symptoms" (emphasis added).

- It comes with risks. Recently, the Louisiana department of Health and Hospitals warned people to use distilled or previously boiled water in their neti pots, after two people died of a "brain-eating" bacterial infection.

- It was designed by ancient yogis, not modern breath experts. According to Yoga Magazine, another, formerly common "neti" method was to stick a thread up the nose and pull it out of the mouth.

For a scientifically tested halitosis and post-nasal drip treatment, ditch the nose water and stick to specially formulated nasal sprays and mouth rinses.

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