Meet the Sinus Irrigator, If You Dare

Can you say power neti? For high-tech neti potters, there's a new gizmo in town, and it's called the sinus irrigator. It's also called a nasal irrigator, a pulsatile nasal irrigation device, or the Turbo Sinus Blaster (Okay, I made that whole blaster thing up, but you've got to admit, that's a pretty cool name.)

Who Needs a Sports Car When You've got THIS? See this contraption? It features a state-of-the-art micro touch power button, electronic LED display, encapsulated motor and pump assembly, fully adjustable pressure and pause control, a calibrated pulse rate, measurement scale, and high-capacity water tank with hygienic cover. And unlike that smokin' hot sports car, this pulsatile nasal irrigation device will even clean your sinuses.

What's a Sinus Irrigator? In some ways, a pulsatile nasal irrigation device is a lot like a neti pot. It's specially designed to flush your nasal cavities using similar techniques. The saline solution (or in some cases, a special sinus irrigator blend) goes in one nostril, travels through your nasal passages, and flows out the other nostril, leaving your nasal passages and sinus cavities cleaner and healthier in the process.

But if it's like a neti pot, then why bother with a sinus irrigator, especially considering the cost? Good question, and you're smart to ask it, especially if you're on a tight budget. Obviously, these sinus irrigators are significantly pricier than neti pots. Your first clue? It has a cord, and you need to plug it in if you're in the mood for any nasal-irrigation action.

Plus, sinus irrigators have multiple parts and are manufactured from multiple materials, compared to neti pots which are made of only one material apiece, whether that material is plastic, ceramic, or stainless steel.

Sinus Irrigators have electronic LED displays, encapsulated motors, and pump assemblies. Neti pots have handles, spouts, and, if you're lucky, maybe even a lid.

For these and other reasons, these high-tech devices are anywhere from five to ten times more expensive than their low-tech counterparts. If your average neti pot costs $10 to $15, expect to pay almost $100, and sometimes even more, for a pulsatile nasal irrigation device. You can get them slightly cheaper, sometimes under $80, by watching for sales. For example, as I'm writing this, two of the most popular models, Grossan Hydro Pulse Nasal and Sinus Irrigation System , and SinuPulse Elite Advanced Nasal Sinus Irrigation System are on sale at Amazon for just under $80.

But even on sale, they're not exactly cheap. This begs the question, why buy something so high-tech when you could buy a nice little collection of neti pots for the same price? Do the math. For the price of one "power neti", you could buy classic neti pots for you, your family, and a few of your closest friends, and maybe even one for your worst enemy, especially if they're afraid of water.

So why buy these things? To see why it's sometimes worth it, let's review how pulsatile nasal irrigation devices are different than classic neti pots, and why these little gizmos have been increasing in popularity in spite of their cost.

If a Neti Pot is a Bicycle, a pulsatile nasal irrigation device is a Sports Car. Think of it this way. A sinus irrigator is like a neti pot the same way a bicycle is like a sports car. They both travel on wheels, they're both amazing inventions, and they both get you from one place to another.

Like a bicycle, a neti pot is powered exclusively by your own movements and the laws of physics. For the neti pot, we're talking gravity. You tilt your head, lift the pot, and gravity alone powers saline solution through your nasal passages.

Because there's no motor or external power device, neti pots and bicycles are pretty darn affordable, relatively speaking.

In contract, pulsatile nasal irrigation devices are the sports cars of nasal irrigation. They're flashier, engineered with more complexity, and they've got power, baby. Yes, you might still want to tilt your head (unless you want one heck of a mess in your bathroom), but the heavy lifting is done by the device itself.

WARNING: Don't Brush Your Teeth With This Thing. Sure, it looks like an electric toothbrush, but it isn't. It is, however, a distant cousin because they share some design traits, don't look for this thing to give you minty-fresh breath or healthy gums.

It's Like a Yogi In Your Nose, and I'm Not Talking the Bear Variety. When an average Josephine does nasal irrigation, they simply let the water flow steadily through their nasal passages.

The pressure and stream doesn't vary a whole lot. When Yoga gurus or hard-core nasal irrigation experts do nasal irrigation, they're often more ambitious – rhythmically sniffing the saltwater, for example, to accomplish a pulsating sensation. This pulsating helps "massage" the nasal cilia, which has a restoring effect.

Product Reviews Reveal Why Some Neti Potters Have Gone High-Tech. If you're curious why some people prefer the sinus irrigator to the old-fashioned neti pot, it's worth reading the sinus irrigator reviews. Some people tried a neti pot first, and found it wasn't enough to solve their more serious sinus issues. Others tried the neti pot first, and had a hard time mastering the old-fashioned nasal irrigation experience. Others say that the high-tech method is less sloppy than a traditional neti pot.

A few others indicate that while it's pricier than your average neti pot, it's still a lot cheaper than nasal surgery, a round of antibiotics, or repeated trips to the doctor. And you can't argue with that logic.

The Bottom Line: Is It Worth It?

Should you get a sinus irrigator? In my opinion, it depends. If you're doing fine with your old-fashioned neti pot, and you're on a budget, something so high-tech might be more sinus-cleansing action than you need.

If, however, you're not completely satisfied with the classic nasal irrigation methods, you're still having sinus trouble, or you want to pamper your sinuses with some high-tech luxury (cilia massage included), the "power-neti" experience of pulsatile nasal irrigation just might be worth a second look.

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More Sinus Help

Looking for More Neti Pot Information? Here are some books that discuss sinus problems, neti pots, and other paths to better sinus health. Click on the images for more details.

Dr. Josephson's unique five-step program combines traditional and alternative medicine to bring respiratory relief.
Sinus Relief Now: The Ground-Breaking 5-Step Program for Sinus, Allergy, and AsthmaSufferers

Learn how to select over-the-counter drugs that won't do more harm than good, simple exercises that can aid sinus drainage, andhow dietary and lifestyle changes can help relieve sinus and respiratory disease. Sinus Survival: The Holistic Medical Treatment for Allergies, Colds, and Sinusitis

After years of research, interviews, and personal and professional experience, Debra Fulghum Bruce and Murray Grossan, M.D., share cures from the top healthcare specialists and patients. The Sinus Cure: 7 Simple Steps to Relieve Sinusitis and Other Ear, Nose, and Throat Conditions

Get step-by-step instructions on effective home remedies and how to tell if surgery is necessary (Dr. Metson believes it rarely is). It includes the truth about myths and misconceptions as well as what we really know about the relationship between fungi and sinus problems, a controversial area of research. Harvard Medical School Guide to Healing Your Sinuses