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A history of headaches
I’ve suffered from sinus headaches since at least college. We’re not just talking about a minor headache. These headaches were debilitating. Light hurt. Sound hurt. Smells made me nauseous. It was all I could do to crawl under my covers, shut out the world, and try to sleep it off.
It got worse once I moved to New Jersey (cue the Jersey jokes). Whenever a storm was approaching the headache would come on and I would be down for the count again. Once I started wracking up sick days from work though, I decided I needed to do something besides hide under the covers.
I made an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat specialist. After the exam, she explained that I have a deviated septum. Sounds kinds of scary, right? She also said most people have a deviated septum. Basically it happens when the wall between your nostrils gets a bit crooked. Nasal passages can become inflamed and dried out, causing pain, nosebleeds, and difficulty breathing (that was probably overly simplistic. If you want a real explanation, check out Mayo Clinic’s page on deviated septum).
Anyway, the deviated septum was what was making my headaches so bad. Then she gave me something that, at the risk of sounding dramatic, changed my life. What was this awe-inspiring wonder of the medical community? The humble neti pot.
Neti pots come in a variety of styles, but the one I prefer is a squeeze bottle. You dump a saline packet in the bottle and fill it with water (distilled or filter is recommended). Put the bottle to one nostril and gently squeeze until the water comes out the other nostril. Switch over to the other nostril and repeat. Switch nostrils until the water is gone. That’s it.
If the idea of squirting water up your nose grosses you out, hear me out before you click away. At the doctor’s suggestion, I started using my neti pot once a day. I didn’t necessarily notice anything at first, but it did help when my nasal passages dried out. Once the first storm blew in and I wan’t in the fetal position under the covers, I knew it was working.
When I was really sold
When I became pregnant, I wasn’t able to use ibuprofen or the decongestant that was my go-to when the neti pot couldn’t quite completely overcome my headache. I doubled down and started using it twice a day. I got through my entire pregnancy with barely a headache, and the ones I had were completely manageable. This was such a far cry from where I had been just a few years prior. Again, I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but the neti pot profoundly improved my quality of life.
So where does the money saving part come in?
I’m glad you asked. The alternative to the neti pot was my regular regimen of pain killers and decongestants. Even buying generic, that adds up over the years. I estimate a $10 neti pot (replaced a few times over the years) plus the saline packets, has probably saved me a few hundred dollars.
But the real savings came from the fact that I avoided surgery to fix my deviated septum. My doctor explained that this type of surgery is a bit of a gamble. While some have good results, others are no better off for their trouble. Copays, out of pocket expenses, time off work, pain and recovery….all of that is a hefty price to pay for no guaranteed improvement.
Did I really just write an ode to a neti pot?
Yup. Pretty much. Full disclosure, this is NOT a sponsored post. It’s just that the neti pot has so improved my quality of life, and has saved me so much money, that if I can help others by sharing my experience with it, I will shout it from the rooftops.
Living with headaches that can strike at any moment and wipe you out is a crippling experience. It seeps into every aspect of your life: family life, work, social engagements. And it’s miserable when you can’t do what you want to do because of a headache. A $10 neti pot completely changed that around for me and let me live my life again.