Man sneezing from the flu

Maintain Healthy Sinuses

Cold and flu season peaks during the fall and winter months each year. It’s a time when a painful sore throat, heavy congestion and a headache can make it difficult to breathe, sleep or function normally. The result is that many of us stay away from work and family as we try to recuperate from a bout with the flu or a cold.

If you’re suffering from the flu, a cold, allergies or sinusitis, you’re not so worried about the actual reason for your sickness. You just want to get well.

Our Utah ENT doctors at the Ear, Nose and Throat Center in Salt Lake City and Draper, Utah are ready to help and we can diagnose your flu or cold symptoms and help you recover. But there are a number of good habits people can follow that can help keep sinuses clear during cold and flu season. The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery recommends you follow these five tips to maintain sinus health.

We also recommend you get a flu shot each year.

Read: 5 Reasons to Get a Flu Shot Each Year

1. Drink Lots of Fluids

One of the best ways to stay healthy is to regularly drink fluids. You’ll stay hydrated and fluids can help ensure that your mucus or nasal discharges stays thin. Drinking fluids regularly also helps prevent congestion. The old guideline of 6-8 glasses of water each day can help your sinus health while it strengthens your immune system.

2. Use a Humidifier

A humidifier can help break down congestion by introducing moisture into your environment. Humidifiers are particularly helpful in arid states like Utah where the air is naturally dry and humidity is extremely low. And since most Utah homes are heated using forced-air furnaces that can also irritate your sinuses, you may soon find that using a humidifier in your bedroom each night can help you get more restful sleep (plus, your skin will become less dry–consider that a bonus).

3. Avoid Smoking and Drinking Alcohol

You already know that smoking can quickly irritate the nose of the smoker as well as the people around the smoker. But you may not know that alcohol can cause nasal and sinus membranes to swell, which, in some cases, exposes them to irritation and infection. If you often find yourself congested, stop smoking and drinking alcohol and monitor your health. You may be surprised by how much better you feel.

Read: Ear, Nose and Throat Center Helps Utah Smokers Stop Smoking

4. Avoid Contact with Allergy Triggers

If you suffer from allergies, you need to avoid contact with those items that trigger allergy symptoms like a stuffy nose and a scratchy throat. If you can’t avoid these triggers, use over-the-counter allergy medicines to help control congestion.

Read: 5 Tips to Avoid Allergies in Utah

5. Use Nasal Sprays

Cold and flu season is one of the busiest travel times of the year. If you plan to fly, use a nasal spray decongestant before take-off. The nasal spray will help mucus drain naturally and you’ll avoid blockage of the sinuses.

The Ear, Nose and Throat Center specializes in diagnosing and treating sinus conditions, congestion, flu and cold symptoms. Contact us to set an appointment today.


Neti pot to irrigate sinus

5 Facts about Neti Pots

Millions of Americans suffer from sinusitis or sinus infections each year. In Utah, we see patients who live with sinus infections year round and they wonder what they can do for sinus relief.

Sinusitis or a sinus infection occurs when the membrane lining of the sinus becomes inflamed. Patients often describe symptoms like a stuffy head, headaches, clogged nasal passages. Some even describe feeling like their head is going to explode. Fortunately, heads don’t explode from sinus infections, so rest easy.

Read: 20 Questions about Sinusitis and Sinus Infections

Sinus infections respond well to antibiotics and decongestants. But many sinusitis sufferers ask us about natural sinus remedies. One of the most popular you’ve likely heard about is a Neti pot. Dr. Oz introduced this natural nasal irrigation solution on the Oprah Winfrey show. Soon Neti pots were flying off the shelves at local drugstores.

But the question remains: does a Neti pot work?

Let’s look at 5 facts about Neti pots.

Fact #1: Neti Pots Work to Drain Clogged Sinuses

Does a Neti pot help drain clogged sinuses? The simple answer is yes, the Neti pot can help drain your sinuses. In fact, many ear, nose and throat doctors recommend Neti pots following sinus surgery and many recommend a Neti pot to help drain clogged sinuses.

Does that mean the Neti pot is the ultimate sinus-clearing solution? Probably not. But it can provide relief for patients with clogged sinuses.

Fact #2: Neti Pots Come from India

There is nothing new about Neti pots or saline nasal irrigation. There is documented use of Neti pots thousands of years ago in ancient Indian history. The idea goes way back yet the goal of nasal irrigation remains the same today: relieve allergy, cold or sinus symptoms by running warm, pure saltwater through one nostril and out the other.

It sounds a little strange, and indeed, the first time you try it, it may feel just as strange as it sounds. We’ve included a video that shows how to use a Neti pot if you want to give this alternative therapy a try.

Watch a video of how to use a Neti pot

Fact #3: Neti Pots Best Used for Temporary Relief

Our patients ask if Neti pots can be used daily. Yes, in the short term. But if you experience lingering sinus infections or inflammation, you may have a sinus issue that should be evaluated by an ear, nose and throat doctor. At the Ear, Nose and Throat Center, our Utah ear, nose and throat doctors look closely at your sinusitis symptoms and recommend the right course of treatment that may include the use of antibiotics, decongestants and sinus surgery, when necessary.

Fact #4: Side Effects Are Limited

Regular use of a Neti pot can trigger side effects in about 10 percent of users. Typical side effects include a stinging sensation within the nose or general nasal irritation. In rare cases, a bloody nose has been observed following use of a Neti pot. But generally speaking, Neti pots have become popular simply because they are viewed as a gentle and affordable way to help deal with clogged sinuses.

If you do encounter side effects, simply reducing the amount of saline in the water can help. Or adjust the water temperature (cold water is a bad idea but too warm can also be a problem). You may also want to adjust how often you use a Neti pot. Make some modifications, then trust your body to point you in the right direction. And if you still have questions, refer to fact #5 below.

Fact #5: Ask Your Doctor if a Neti Pot Is Right For You

Okay, that headline sounds like the disclaimer on your typical prescription drug advertisement. But the advice is sound. If you have questions about your sinuses, sinus infections, Neti pots or any other nose or breathing issues, talk to one of our board-certified ENT doctors in Salt Lake City, Draper and Park City, Utah. We’ll work with you to determine if a Neti pot can help you treat your sinus issues. And we can also diagnose and treat lingering sinus issues.